Special Report - How to Use Technology to Reshape Your Company - Page 2

Jun 22, 2010

Daniel Burrus

Opportunities abound

Since ELAs are just now emerging, it’s the perfect opportunity for CIOs to be on the forefront of the revolution. ELAs are often internal company apps, and the IT department should be the one involved and in charge of developing them but, you ask, "What do enterprise level apps even look like?"

Here’s an example of how an enterprise level purchasing app could work: Suppose you work at a manufacturing plant and want to purchase an item. The moment you discover the need, you can pull up the company’s purchasing app on your smart phone. You can place your order, see all the pre-approved items that fit your need, and select what you want. When you click on the item, you can get an instant approval or denial. If there’s a denial because your request doesn’t meet pre-defined purchase parameters established by the company’s head of purchasing, you can get a reason and access steps to move forward to make that purchase happen. At the same time, everyone involved in the purchase can have instant access to that request and its status.

Here’s another example: With a security app for a military base or other lock-down area, if an incident occurs on premises, such as a fire, everyone on location can know exactly what happened and where the incident is ― all from their phone the minute it occurs. Depending on your rank or position, you can know where to go and what to do. You can see the location of the fire extinguishers and other emergency tools. If there is an explosion and you need to go to a secure place, you can see where to go and how to get there. You can locate different emergency assets quickly from the palm of your hand.

These are just two small examples. Other kinds of enterprise level apps can include internal and secure versions of popular social media platforms such as Twitter to quickly solve problems, Facebook to connect disconnected engineers, and YouTube to create how-to videos. Companies that have already embraced such initiatives are creating stunning results because they’re using technology to enhance collaboration and communication among employees without exposing the company to threats from outside the network.

In addition to creating enterprise level apps, the CIO should be looking at creating apps they can offer to their customers/clients and the public in general. Such apps may even open a new revenue stream for the company.

The next level

Aside from directing the creation of the various apps, the CIO also needs to be looking at where the app will be used. Currently, people think of apps as being primarily for smart phones. But what about the new smartpad revolution Apple launched with its iPad? Some smartphone apps are compatible with smartpads. But even the companies who make these apps aren’t thinking big enough … both literally and figuratively. Since the smartpads have bigger screens and more processing power, why should they do the same thing as the phone app? Why not take advantage of that extra space and power and come up with a new class of apps that can do things the phone apps can’t? These are key questions CIOs must think about and address if they want their company to be a serious players in the future app market.

But that’s just the beginning.

The next evolution is apps for the smart television ― think iTV. Today’s newer televisions are Internet enabled. (And, by the way, all our devices will be Internet enabled one day.) That means the processor and the television browser are built into the TV set so you don’t have to plug a computer into your television. The TV is the computer.

This will drive the IPTV revolution even faster. Because it’s essentially TV over the Internet versus on cable and satellite, many Millennials use IPTV to solve all of their wired television viewing needs. Knowing this, it’s only logical that your company will also want to produce television level apps. However, now you have even more visual real estate and broader bandwidth connection. Many new TVs are also 3D equipped, meaning that your apps could be 3D, too. As you can see, this is a game changer. Smart CIOs need to stay ahead of this evolution and help redefine their company accordingly.

Using the paradigms

All these revolutions, and especially the app revolution, are enabling companies to redefine who they are, what they offer, and how they offer it … and they’re enabling the CIO to have a big role in the redefining process. In this case, the current technology shifts are actually tools of creation. As a result, you can help your company create new products, new services, and entire new markets ― something most CIOs have played a role in, but now have an opportunity to lead.

Here are some ways to do that:

First, look at your products, services, or industry and see how today’s new technologies can help you redefine things. The classic example is When they first started the business, they used technology to redefine how people sell books. But they didn’t stop there. They then expanded to other products and redefined how nearly everything was sold. Then they redefined again. Because they have a large IT, logistics, and warehouse system that is not 100% in use at any one time, they now rent out their enterprise IT platform and warehousing space to other companies. So they are not only redefining an industry; they’re also redefining themselves.

Another now classic example is Apple. Back in early 2000, before they launched the iPod and iPhone, most people thought Apple was quickly going out of business. That’s when the company redefined themselves around music. Later they redefined again with the iPhone, which lead a telecommunications revolution. Now they’re doing it again with the iPad by creating a new class of personal computer. Like, Apple has redefined themselves as well as their industry.

So when it comes to your company and your industry, ask yourself some key questions, such as:

  • What is growing and what is shrinking?
  • Where is the direction of change based on the impact of new technology? (For example, getting more energy efficient is not a trend, it’s long-term. Going green is long-term. Getting more virtual is long-term.) and
  • Based on where things are going, is there a way to use technology to create new opportunities?
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