The Real World

In a perfect world IT budgets would increase exponentially every year, you would only ever pay for the services you use and comprehensive testing would be simple, inexpensive and never result in any downtime. However, in the real world, the interconnectivity of complex SOA and service-based architectures, private and public cloud computing and third-party partner systems can make robust testing tricky and expensive. Test environment issues can cause downtime during test execution. Mitigating the risks associated with usage spikes and growth mean that, on an average day, you might only be using around 20% of the physical server capacity you are paying for and budget cuts can force the need to capitalise on existing systems, while still trying to stay ahead of the competition. So sometimes, reality bites and when it does, the only ‘intelligent’ way forward is virtualisation.

Server and storage virtualisation are enablers of cloud computing, allowing you to simulate the exact physical conditions, behaviour and context sensitive date of complex applications, databases and other computing services in a testing environment. You can also pool and share any of your unused resources, resulting in faster and more cost effective testing without the restraints associated with traditional hardware and OS virtualisation.

Virtually Perfect

The test benefits are manifold and include:

- Simulation of a complete and accurate test environment with no missing components or services that can occur in a normal test environment as a result of third party omissions, delays or inaccessibility
- Earlier lifecycle testing for a wide variety of tests including manual, automated, performance and mobile
- A shift left with earlier defect detection so that discovery occurs during system testing, rather than at the integration stage
- Developers are able to circumvent the issues of unavailable services or components and expedite the prototyping process by creating functional mock-ups and simulated models
- Reduced infrastructure costs, increased productivity, better overall control over test timeframes and faster releases of a far superior quality

So if your data is sensitive and your security system is usually like Fort Knox but you are unable to replicate that level in your testing environment, virtualisation can enable you to mitigate the risk of a security breach. Similarly if the system you are testing is at a different location, at various distributed locations or simply still in the development stage, you can create a complete virtual, local and centralised system for testing. Services provided by, for example hospitals, banks and mobile providers put business and lives at risk if they are interrupted, so service virtualisation is an ideal solution to avoid the repercussions of any potential downtime.

Reality Check

According to a recent Tech Target survey of over 4,000 IT professionals, 65% expect a budget increase in 2014 and 37% are planning to increase expenditure and expand their IT organisations to both facilitate business growth and service the business as new requirements emerge. This is obviously great news, but what of the remaining businesses who have not fully recovered from the economic downturn, or those who have already undergone costly IT transformations but want to continue to stay ahead of their competitors? What’s the real ROI of Service Virtualisation?

Service virtualisation can offer considerable savings in both capital and operational expenditure. We touched on some of the benefits above but, specifically relating to Capital Expenditure, service virtualisation offers the following benefits:

- Reduces the need to purchase additional infrastructure and equipment to replicate multiple test environments
- Enables comprehensive performance testing without the associated hardware costs
- Saves time usually associated with procurement, setting up and tool and system configuration

The only caveat here is that you need to weigh up CapEx savings against the operational cost of the virtual cloud services. However, the balance goes in favour of virtualisation as OpEx savings are made by the fact that set up, access time and fees, and waiting for other departments to build and test, are all either eliminated or greatly reduced and the final deliverable has a much faster time to market, paving the way for more time and energy for greater innovation. So, if the harsh reality is turning round biting you in the proverbial, then it might just be time to create a more virtual service environment!

 

 

Darren Coupland AUTHOR: Darren Coupland
Darren is the sector head of telecommunications at Sogeti.

Posted in: Automation Testing, Budgets, Cloud, Developers, Infrastructure, Innovation, mobile testing, Performance testing, Security, Shift Left, SOA, Software testing, Test Automation, Test environment, Test Environment Management, Virtualisation      
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roi-social-mediaThere’s a book titled “The Knowing-Doing Gap” describing why so many organisations fail to take action on ideas and knowledge that they already have. They know what to do, but don’t do it. Kind of like how many of us have no excuse for not dieting and exercising in our personal lives. Whole swaths of “best practices” fall in this category.  So, here’s one such basic best practice: Measuring ROI.

Occasionally I get to go to a CIO/IT Leadership conference. Invariably someone will raise the topic of business/IT alignment. Then, someone else will remark on how unfortunate it is that “in their organisation” IT does not audit or review past projects to determine if the business benefits that were projected are indeed being realised. As a consequence, IT’s contribution to business success remains shrouded in mystery.

Before addressing the question of whose responsibility measuring ROI actually is, I’d like to spend a few moments reflecting on this idea in general.  According to Gartner, each year, on average, companies spend roughly $12,000/employee on IT, about 65% of which is to keep the lights on, with the remaining 35% supporting transformation and growth initiatives. So, an enterprise with 10,000 people will spend around $42 million on new ‘stuff’. I think we can all agree that not tracking if this magnitude of investment achieves the desired ROI and/or planned intangible benefits, is likely not a “best practice”.

So, now that we agree that this should definitely be tracked, the question is who should do the tracking? Clearly IT has a vested interest, because the numbers should show the value IT delivers. But actually, since the investment was made on behalf of a business sponsor, the business sponsor is also accountable for measuring and realising the ROI.  Presumably, he or she presented a pretty good case in the IT Steering Committee or similar governance body to make sure that, of all the presented initiatives, this particular one got funded.

The measurement part itself is not too difficult. I recommend organisations stay away from attempts to isolate the IT contribution and instead simply measure the success of the overall program according to the metrics originally proposed in the business case. Did sales go up? Did personnel get freed up? Did cost savings materialise? Did customer satisfaction increase? The business case should provide ready-made success metrics that allow you to attribute these effects to the particular initiative. Track these numbers on an annual basis for a minimum of three years (or as long as the business case projected) with intermediate numbers on 6 month intervals if needed. While past performance is no guarantee for future success, the business sponsors that can prove they were good stewards of the investment funds awarded to them in the past, will have an easier time securing funding for future initiatives.

To make all this work, it is essential to have in place a governance body, such as an IT Steering Committee including senior representatives from the business and the CIO, that oversees and acts as a steward of the investment portfolio. ROI is clearly a metric - and not just projected ROI. In some cases, the Committee may appoint separate people to measure benefits, or to streamline the measurement processes, but this is not a requirement. What is required is that the business sponsor is held accountable.

And for those of you that hear people say that “their organisation doesn’t measure return on past (IT) investments”, you should probably take note!

Kasper de Boer AUTHOR: Kasper de Boer
Kasper de Boer is a Vice President in Sogeti US, where he is currently responsible for the Infrastructure Practice. Kasper has 25 years experience in IT Consulting and is particularly interested in IT organizations and how to make these more efficient and effective.

Posted in: Collaboration, IT strategy, SogetiLabs, Transformation      
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On Tuesday  May 20th, Sogeti France presented the the third edition of “Défi H” in partnership with Le Monde Informatique – an award that recognises innovation for professional integration and remarkable work achieved by the competing teams. 

Specifically, this challenge rewarded the technological values promoted by the French students of IT business schools that were involved in innovations to support integration of disabled people within companies.

In a previous post, I was wondering if the 2014 edition would follow the same trends of 2012 and 2013 and I was quite anxious about the projects that we would see this year.

I had no need to worry – this edition was beyond my expectations. Why? Essentially for these reasons:

Gen Y Engagement:

Gen Y is not so different from any other generation. This online, real TV, gaming generation has grown up in an instantaneous environment. No matter what you say,  Gen Y wants you to act and wants to be a part of it. Taking this into account, if you want to motivate the Gen Y young professionals, and want them to be engaged, you have to let them build and lead their own projects a whilst stimulating their creativity and their leadership. Effectively, they they are much more enthusiastic about volunteering for a cause than donating. The Gen Y young professionals tend to choose their perferred job considering life balance, values, and the likely career path. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) values are also a real motivation for this enthusiastic generation.

A high level of positive energy is deployed during Defi H: they care about inclusion, they care about innovation in CSR fields, and they will certainly be open-minded and responsible managers.

Six out of seven student teams competing in this year’s Defi H programme have built and delivered, in just 6 months, smart solutions to address different types of disabilities, demonstrating the large scope of potential usages described below.

GMHETNA Business School “GMH Project”
Requirements: “For us, getting on a train has turned into a battle that takes a lot of important time. The support facilities for disabled people with reduced mobility are really long. It often happens that before succeeding to get on a train, we have already missed two or three trains that passed before. “ Julien, member of the Association of the Paralyzed People in France
Solutions: “Give Me a Hand” is a project owned by both of the two teams of ETNA Business School. In the beginning they brought together their ideas in order to develop a social network for exchange, mutual assistance, and sharing of information among people with reduced mobility. It connects its different members and favors their social integration. Then, the teams designed a module for RATP/SNCF that anticipates the arrival of the train at the station and contributes to the support of the people with reduced mobility.
Technologies: Scrum, Continuous Integration /HTML 5, CSS3, LAMP and AngularJS/Responsive Web Design. Available on smart phones and tablets.

HandiReportEPSI – Ecole d’Ingénierie Informatique “Handi report Project” : Awarded Special Jury Prize 2014
Requirements:
“People with intellectual disabilities with/without autism disorders often suffer from a loss of memory. They are also prone to focus their attention to the events that have perplexed their emotional situation. This fact could mislead the integration coaches from ADAPEI* who guide the handicap workers.” Extract from the interview “Talenteo”*(The Association of the Friends and Parents of Mentally Handicapped People)
Solutions: HandiReport is a web application that drives handicapped people to answer regular questions on their personal or professional life. The feedback is automatically sent to their integration coach from ADAPEI association. This way the coach is regularly informed about the emotional situation of the handicapped worker. This helps the integration coach to follow the patient’s behavior and to adapt his treatment while anticipating possible difficulties.
Technologies: Scrum, Continuous Integration /HTML 5, CSS3, Bootstrap/ Lamp and Hosting. Available on smart phones, tablets and laptops.

WorldMuteCESI Exia – Ecole Superieure d’Informatique “Worldmute Project “
Requirements:
”The improvement of life of the people that suffer from slurred speech and laryngectomy in particular is one of my professional priorities. Therefore, I accepted to give my modest contribution to this project.” Robert Chalus : President of The ALMVSO (The Association of Laryngectomy and Mute People of the Southwest Region)
Solutions: With this project, called WORLDMUTE, we want to help the deaf-mute people and facilitate their integration in their professional lives. The objective of this work is to develop a mobile application that enables these people to listen and to follow the sense of the conversation. It is also meant to propose phrases adapted to the context of the conversation that will appear on the screen of the user’s smart phone. The idea is to enable the user/patient – although indirectly, via an artificial intelligence device – to communicate fluently, naturally, and as if he expresses himself orally.
Technologies: Scrum, Continuous Integration / Android/C language /SQLite Database

ProjectLSFPOLYTECH Sophia Antipolis “LSF Project”
Requirements:
Let’s imagine a deaf person who has recently joined a company. We would probably be right in supposing that none of his colleagues understand sign language. Thanks to our software, everybody could be able to quickly learn some basics of sign language and to prove his motivation to communicate with deaf people. The learning is playful (a serious game) and makes the approach even more participative.
Solutions: We would like to create a serious game that offers a graphic interface that is light, playful, and correct, in order to learn the basics of sign language. The application is offered in several game modules – each of them with a specific purpose.
Technologies: Kanban/Scrum, Continuous Integration / Android/C language, OpenCV/JavaCV et LibGDX / Langage C++.

HandiLightESME Soudria Business School “Handylight Project”: Awarded Innovation Award 2014
Requirements:
Depending on their impact and position, cranial traumas can generate significant cognitive and motor disorders. For example, cognitive disorders can generate problems with alertness, states of a great fatigue. These clinical issues can affect or even put at risk the return to our professional life.
Solutions: We will design and provide an end to end system evaluating the influence of the length and the intensity of certain waves, which would allow the carrying out of clinical experiments in order to validate specific methods. We will create a pair of glasses that diffuse a range of light-emitting diodes (LED). We will connect this device to sensors of physiological parameters and, depending on the data, we will regulate the light in order to stimulate alertness. We will provide, after we finish our analysis, the results of this LED diffusion to the patients.
Technologies: Hardware : BeagleBone and embedded I/O Software : Yocto/GCC/GIT/C++, Boost/Qt, Gnuplot.

 Wink&TalkECE Paris Engineer School Wink and Talk Project: Awarded “DEFI H” 2014 Trophy Prize
Requirements:
“The communication is what makes the difference between life and existence.” This is what the London troupe claims in the play of Jean-Dominique Bauby in the Metta-theatre : Flicker
Solutions: In order to further understand the Locked-In Syndrome (or Confinement syndrome), our idea for this project was to help people with communication disorders to recover their speech by interpreting the blink of an eye via an interface, for a lower cost. We previewed two subprojects, one that concerns mainly in detecting the blink of the eye and the other that forwards the answer generated by the blink of an eye.
Technologies: Hardware: Raspberry Pi, Webcam 8 MPixels Software : OpenCVJAVA.

The Defi H contest offers a canvas and an opportunity for innovative ideas but does not bring resources and funding to build the solutions. It is always up to students to identify the “right” solution by using and assembling relevant and available technologies for their ideas and projects. In doing that, they typically apply the “jugaad innovation” or “frugal innovation” concept, and take into account the economic factor in order to reach a large audience, whilst also and minimising industrial deployment.

Coaching

The work done by these student teams is awesome. Nevertheless, without a dedicated coach (like the experts from Sogeti that support them), certain parts of these ideas would have fallen down during project development. This really highlights the need to create an ecosystem including different skills, cultures, and expertise to create the key success factors to innovate.

This point also reinforces the fact that succeeding in trans-generational collaboration will create momentum for a common goal and objective (see http://labs.sogeti.com/generational-profiles/).

Different way of thinking

Working on digitally inclusive projects and technology “door openers” is certainly one way to better understand how information technologies could help people, companies, and finally, society.  During the Defi H contest, the rebound effect (i.e the way that one idea can generate some others, thus creating more values than the initial one) is working with maximum impact. For example regarding the Handylight project, the team identified several other kinds of applications useful for all people (not only disabled) that are ready to use.

I am quite sure that designing solutions for disabled people will enrich the whole solution because the angle is different and includes both disabled and non-disabled people. You may say, “Yes but it is more expensive…” Really? Think about it!

Next steps

As a special recognition of their performance, two members of the winning team from “Wink and Talk, ECE Paris” have been invited to participate in the third season of the Capgemini Super Techies Show in India to compete against other global teams. This international reality TV game show gives technology professionals and students an opportunity to craft solutions to real business challenges faced by global organisations. Contestants on the show have the opportunity to engage with leaders from those global businesses, work with Capgemini experts and compete for a cash prize.

 The fourth Defi H edition will be launched in France, in September, to carry on creating value and interest.  It is really interesting and exciting to know that, for the three previous editions, more than 80 students have built 18 projects, 3 start-ups have been created, and more than 5 ideas are in a patent process!

Defi H is a real catalyst for positive energy that actively contributes to the employment of people with disabilities. This springboard of ideas is an enabler to concretise: a project needs to be useful and usable. The commitment and motivation of young people for the digital inclusion and for innovation is great, let us think about how crowd-funding solutions could be a good way to be more concrete and stimulate the next competitors in a future edition of the Defi H.

In addition, a new Defi H edition will be launched this year in the Netherlands as well. A new champion league may be starting!

In his post, Michiel Boreel wrote “We will learn to trust these intelligent assistants and award them more and more responsibility to take over tasks on our behalf, so we can focus on more important things in life.”  Disability and digital inclusive areas will certainly be topics we will bring benefits to.

Jacques Mezhrahid AUTHOR: Jacques Mezhrahid
For 25 years, Jacques has been working in the software services industry and was involved in various and innovative projects for different market sectors. In charge of Digital Convergence Offering for Sogeti France since 2012 combining mobility, collaboration, architecture and Big data, he and his team are developing solutions, skills and expertises within the company.

Posted in: Agile, Events, Innovation, mobile applications, Mobility, Software Development      
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portfolioPreviously in the Architecture Office: Chief architect Herbert Birchbranch (Herb) managed to build the same basic architecture model around both projects and system maintenance objects. He also realised that building an architecture practice is a continuous process which improves following every meeting with a stakeholder.

Jimmy Had a Concern

One day in February a Technical Project Manager, Jimmy, invited himself to an architecture meeting. Herb thinks that every interaction with the outside-architecture-practice-world is important, so he was happy to give Jimmy a 30 minuntes slot on the agenda.

What Jimmy wanted to discuss was a big concern in one of his projects – he felt that the integrations being planned between two systems were designed in completely the wrong way. He had tried to raise this with the Project Manager and project team several times, but had been ignored every time. During the meeting, the architecture team agreed with Jimmy that the way the integrations were being handled was very wrong, according to the policies around integration.

ArchitectPortfolioThat same evening, Herb decided to create a new procedure, an architecture practice service called Concern Analysis. The thinking being that it should be possible for anyone to confidentially raise a concern and get a Concern Analysis done. The next day the procedure was defined with a procedure description and a template for the Concern Report.  “Aaah, a whistle blower function,” Peter the IT strategist said with a smile. It was important that a Concern Analysis should never take more than two weeks. The focus should be on a quick analysis and proposal of further actions.

It was decided that the IT management team would receive the result, called a Concern Report. After an initial test from the management team, Herb performed his own Concern Analysis, using Jimmy’s concerns around systems integration as a pilot case.

The result? Important actions were taken to solve Jimmy’s case and the design of integration architecture got prioritised. Suddenly, the architecture practice got another three requests for Concern Analysis.

The birth of an Architecture Service Portfolio

Herbert Birchbranch realised at the end of February that he should bring together the different procedures to create an Architecture Practice Service Portfolio. The most important reasons for doing this were to clarify for the team what they are working with, and to be able to communicate in a simple way what the architecture practice are doing and what they can support the rest of the organisation with. Herb spent some time thinking, before creating a simple structure based on three main types of architecture services:

  • Process related architecture services
  • Assignment related architecture services
  • Representation related architecture services

The service portfolio for architecture services related to process was summarised as follows:

ArchitectPortfolio2

These services are related to processes in place, in this case the project model and system management model.

Assignment-related services are the ones that can be ordered from the architecture practice. They can be allocation of an architect to work within a project, quick assessments, design of viewpoint architectures, and concern analysis.

Representation-related architecture services are allocations of specific architects to participate in more continuous forums.

Time for Budgeting

One day in late February, when Herb was just about to finish the service portfolio definition, he got a call from Christina from the management team - the sponsor of the architecture practice. “Herb can you help me to create a rough architecture budget for 2015?” she asked. Herb answered, “Of course, but I will use the service portfolio as a basic foundation, and it will not be just rough”. “Okay,” she replied and the call was ended.

Herb was really glad that he had started  the service portfolio project. How could he possibly make a serious budget otherwise? Instead of thinking of resources in terms of numbers, he tried to quantify each defined architecture service. For the first time the architecture budget could be made based on expected needs!

Conclusion

For any organisation that has professional intentions, a service portfolio should be a must have. An architecture practice is no exception. A successful architecture practice service portfolio:

- Clarifies for the team what the main purpose is
- Tells the people outside the team what we do
- Gives us the necessary foundation for a serious budget
- Defines the integrations to other processes

As shown with Jimmy’s concern above, the service portfolio is a living thing. If new needs show up that the architecture practice should obviously handle, then create a new service.

Finally, the service portfolio creates a very good discussion on what we should work with and why, which seldom is clear within a quite large and often distributed architecture team.

Per Bjorkegren AUTHOR: Per Bjorkegren
Per Björkegren is an Enterprise Architect and IT strategist in Sweden. He has worked within Capgemini Group since 1991 and is the practice leader for Enterprise Architecture and IT Governance within Sogeti Sweden, developing the service offerings and speaking at open seminars. He is also the founder and president of SWEAN (Swedish Enterprise Architecture Network), which currently has about 700 members.

Posted in: architecture, Budgets, Enterprise Architecture, integration tests, project management, Requirements      
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does that make senseMaking an article understood and readable is complicated enough, but getting the reader’s full attention is an even bigger challenge. The reasons for this are numerous: data is everywhere and in a constant flow, coming from multiple channels and multiple speakers, and not always in a consistent format. Time constraints can also play a part. And if you’re not understood, there is a very high risk that the message will not succeed in meeting its objective!

So, how do you make sure you’re efficient in being read and understood, and getting your message across in this context? How do you keep focused on your goals and succeed?

To me, “sense making” is one of the best ways. Being understood is, in fact, very much about “sense”! As soon as “it makes sense”, it is easier for the reader to understand what is expected. “Making sense” is as much about getting across the message about  “ how” we want to do things, as “why” we want to do them – it is about providing a “vision” of the big picture and, for individuals, the part they play in making that vision a reality. This is true in project management, organisational change management, pre-sales activity and, obviously, personal subjects. Let’s keep focused on professional aspects here – but don’t hesitate to explore in your personal life too.

If you’ve read previous posts about coaching, you may have noticed a direct link to this “sense approach”. Being coached is about learning how to find your own resources to succeed and how to build your own solution. The first – and most important – step of the coaching process is to find a  “sensible” objective to reach (measure positive and negative goals): without “sense”, you’ll find it harder to engage yourself in the task – and it is proven that without engagement, success is harder to reach. A coach is a “partner of your success” – “sense making” is part of the coaching process and toolkit.
Know why you have to do something, then discover how (and not the other way round), and finally, “just do it”.

My preferred area to coach is project management, including how to help project leaders to deliver a successful project, in terms of cost, quality and planning. A good project manager needs to have authority and enthusiasm: his leadership is reinforced if he doesn’t forget to demonstrate “sense” to each and every stakeholder of the project.

A project life is often very hard…and being focused doesn’t change daily difficulties, just helps in getting through them! Knowing who has to do what and by when is the basis of project management but, although it is a key activity, explaining the “why?” is often forgotten. Discussing “why?” team members are doing certain things often leads to better decisions and the avoidance of unnecessary mistakes.

My last thought about “making sense” gives an effective proof of concept : in one critical project for Sogeti, the whole team was suffering – endless hours at work, stress, low quality of deliverables and high customer expectations. It appeared that it was time to help the project manager and team leader. I needed to coach the project manager.

The situation was tense and the project was in crisis: motivation and confidence were lost, goals were forgotten. Confusion was everywhere and communication was broken both inside the team, and even worse, with the customer. After no more than 4-5 weekly sessions, the project manager understood that he was no longer able to explain the objectives of the project – or what he expected from each member of the team; so the team couldn’t make sense of why they were doing what they were doing.

In fact, coaching this team was not hard … the problem was easy to fix – the project manager realised that no meeting had ever been done to explain who was doing what, what was really expected and why it was being done with the whole team present. After the meeting with the full team took place motivation grew, efforts were increased and deliverables quality improved. The relationship between the project manager and his team members also changed, and communication was facilitated.

Whilst, at a glance, the team and project still weren’t perfect, the chance and motivation to succeed was real! Today, the project is under control and meetings will the full team present occur regularly.

What is true in project management, where stress is present almost every minute, is also effective elsewhere. Sense making optimises wellness in the professional environment. To me, it is also probably the new warranty of economical performance.

What do you think? How do YOU take this into account? How do you find sense in your job and contribute to your company – for yourself first, for your accomplishment? Make it simple!

Ask for explanations and explain to others … give sense :-)

Marie-Flore Boin AUTHOR: Marie-Flore Boin
Marie-Flore Boin is today Business Developer in the Sogeti Consulting Business Unit. She is in charge of the development of the IT governance” offer, in which she can develop a tight relationship with CIOs and their direct fellows. In this activity, she tries to develop new way of rising objectives for an IT organization, and also new solutions toward these objectives.

Posted in: communication, project management, SogetiLabs, Uncategorized      
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pizzeria2My son is currently at high school and has a job at a local pizza restaurant. One thing he and his friends agree upon is that “no-one likes customers”. This is because when a customer comes in, work needs to be done and who wants to spend their time doing that? Nevertheless, they all recognise that this the customers are why they are there and all work together to produce the requested goods. One key advantage they have over most of my corporate clients in IT is that they actually get to see the customers and hear directly from the customers what they want or need.

I was thinking about this in the context of the now very well entrenched practice of thinking in terms of “Internal Customers”, “running IT like a business”, and OLAs/SLAs etc.  Presumably, this strategy is put in place to improve performance of IT, increase job satisfaction, and ultimately increase overall company performance.  After all, isn’t it true that the ultimate customer sits at the end of a chain of internal customers? Hence, if all internal transactions are optimised, the end-result must be a good one, right?

In reality everyone is familiar with the drawbacks of this way of thinking. Particularly in IT, business/IT alignment has been a long standing issue, with IT producing results for their “business customer” that are often frowned upon even if they do meet required SLAs or OLAs. At best, if everyone is busy meeting their SLAs and OLAs, the organisation typically calcifies around yesterday’s customer needs. At worst, they stop caring about the end-customer and make sure they “cannot be blamed” for bad results: they were just doing their jobs, and didn’t the business “customers” sign off on the requirements that were just “delivered”? Most people in the organisation have no trouble pointing out what is not working when asked: there is too little cross-departmental collaboration, too much focus on internal process.

There are developments that point to a new thinking away from the “internal customer”. Agile is one, whereby the Business is embedded in the project team, so that the voice of the actual customer is constantly represented. Micro-sourcing in lieu of grand outsourcing is another one. In micro-sourcing, smaller functions of IT are sourced to external providers, leaving more flexibility to allow the IT organisation to respond to ever-changing needs.

Regardless of which strategy is chosen, what is required is increased awareness from IT of the actual customers and working as a partner with the business to solve business problems togeter, instead of focusing on the optimisation of IT metrics and SLAs.

Kasper de Boer AUTHOR: Kasper de Boer
Kasper de Boer is a Vice President in Sogeti US, where he is currently responsible for the Infrastructure Practice. Kasper has 25 years experience in IT Consulting and is particularly interested in IT organizations and how to make these more efficient and effective.

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ScaleNow that we have had plenty of time to experiment with mobile, drawn our mobile strategy and released our real value apps that align with our strategy, its time to draw guidelines and shape our mobile policy. By combining the ‘What?’ and ‘What not?’ from our strategy with the ‘How?’ and maybe even ‘How not or How Temporary?’ in our policy, we are making sure we are able to deliver solid solutions and leverage earlier investments in new concepts.

Play time in mobile is over and we have moved away from just ‘doing mobile’ on the side, to ‘doing mobile’ in line with the other channels – hence the need for a clear strategy.  Our mobile strategy gives us goals and often an explicit roadmap for future releases. Along with our clients, our workforce expects solid solutions that are not a frantic feature feast but simply deliver true value to their needs in context. They understand and appreciate our mobile solutions, the strategy we shaped is clearly visible, and people are getting more and more used to our full digital presence; including the role mobile takes in the broad range of channels. At least, this outcome is what mobile strategy could and, more importantly, should help to create.

On the other hand, we have to have a good idea of what we are actually able to deliver on our digital and mobile channels, and how we can do that. Typically these kind of policies tend to get left behind. Especially in the exploring stages of an emerging and still immature mobile channel, we see plenty of effort being put into realsing the mobile solutions. However, they are often not connected to each other, or to the realisation of other digital channels. In that respect, each of the mobile initiatives feel like starting over, every time. This doesn’t only feel wrong, it is wrong. This strategy might work well for a short period of time where go-to-market is very important, but in the long run it reduces your power to deliver. If every solution is treated as a standalone and complete new initiative, restarting the process each time, we cannot combine investments and maintenance of the solutions will be very costly.

Think of it as two legs, or a balance scale: if strategy is on the right then policy is on the left. We need them both on par to be able to move forward. Being able to execute our strategy effectively means that our policy should be at the same level. If your strategy becomes clearer and grows, so should your policy.

Let’s finish with three tips on leveling your policy with your strategy:

 

1. If your systems are not up to speed to deliver integrated mobile solutions, create a policy to use a temporary route to deliver, for instance with cloud technology. But also make sure you have a clear path to integrate the solution as it should have been done and add it to the budget of the initial release to make sure it will be done.
2. Create some kind of front door, both physical and digital; a mobile inspiration center run by your own ‘Mr. Mobile’ to answer questions around creating mobile solutions with the intent to help sharpening the solution, and come up with creative opportunities to realize the solution. The aim is not to scare employees away with large questionnaires, but to assist with the integration and realisation of their app concept.
3. What we typically see is that the mobile initiative sits with Marketing/HR or the IT department. If Marketing/HR is responsible, make sure to connect as mentioned before. If you are in IT and want to be ready for mobile, make sure you have a clear understanding of the objectives for mobile in your organisation – being ready for mobile is not generic, its organisation specific. Preparing a front door as stated in 2), might be a good initiative, but take it a step further and inspire the organisation with mobile thinking… perhaps organise inspiration and strategy workshops; interconnect with the business and shape possible mobile solutions together. After all, that is what Business Technology is all about.

Arnd Brugman AUTHOR: Arnd Brugman
As an innovator Arnd helps organisations with innovative project delivery - from the initial idea and inspiration through to the vision, strategy and roadmap all the way through to assissting with proof of concepts and pilots. He has significant experience with innovation, product development and service delivery.

Posted in: Digital, Digital strategy, Marketing, mobile applications, Mobility, SMAC, SogetiLabs      
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satelliteDo you want to capture free Wi-fi connection in the middle of Siberia or in any free internet access area? This could become a reality in 2015 thanks to the “Outernet” launched by an association of New York Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF).

This type of project is a huge issue in terms of free access to information for 60% of the world population, which has no access to the internet now. To overcome this problem, the idea is to disseminate data from space via a constellation of satellites capable of sending loop digital content anywhere on the planet. The satellites in question are Cubesat, small cubes of 1 kg to 10 cm square originally developed by the University of California and Stanford in the United States.

Many universities and NASA, in order to to conduct measurements and experiments in Earth orbit, currently operate these low-cost satellites. Outernet plans to deploy hundreds of these micro satellites at an altitude of 500 km to cover the entire globe. Once in orbit, ground relay stations send information from the web to the satellite, which then broadcast the loop to Earth. The Wi-fi signal should be consistent with current standards and be compatible with existing receivers. So, a standard tablet or smartphone could connect with the information flows without any problem .

But “Outernet” will actually have little to do with the internet we use daily. It does not offer full access to the web, but only limited and selected content (local and international news, Wikipedia, OpenStreetMap and Ubuntu distribution, educational sites like Coursera or Khan University).

By cons, it will be impossible to surf or perform tasks that require sending data. We are therefore dealing more with a kind of modern radio. The goal is not to compete with the major Internet service providers in major cities but provide basic internet to unconnected or censored people. This raises a number of questions:

1. What are its advantages over the competing project “Google Loon”, based on stratospheric balloons that will allow, if the deployment comes to an end, a 3G connection at low prices in the most isolated places in the world. Another project of satellite constellation, the project “03B” is well advanced. Four 500 kg satellites are already deployed, more than 8,000 km above our heads. Ultimately, this project will provide a low-cost satellite internet war.

2. Disseminating handpicked content is a laudable initiative, but will the “neutrality” of this information be ensured, since it’s the users involved in the project who will decide collectively (following what qualification and arbitration process?) the nature of the broadcast content. This strongly resembles the death of Net neutrality and equal access to all kinds of information.

Please Mr. Kennedy, help us to safeguard full Internet access for everybody.

Reference: soundtrack from the Coen Brothers’ movie “Inside Llewyn Davis”

 

Philippe Andre AUTHOR: Philippe Andre
Philippe André is an expert within Business and IS architecture, Service Architecture, System modelling and Soil science. Philippe is a Certified Enterprise Architect (L4) and TOGAF9 certified. Philippe’s mission is to help clients to make the best decision as far as business and IT alignment is concerned. He works as a link between architecture and design team, making sure that architecture decisions and directions are applied on the field.

Posted in: 4G, communication, Digital, SogetiLabs, Technology Outlook      
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OpenAPIInnovation in future apps will come from the use of Open APIs (Application Programming Interfaces via Web Services) providing access to data and services to anyone that wants to consume it.  Today organizations generally provide an app that allows users to interact with the data, products or services the organization provides. In some cases an API(s) is provided for partners which provides access to a limited subset of the organizations underlying data or services. The outcome of this approach is usually a single “Official’ app for a platform and a small sub-set of specialty partner apps all of which are under the control of the Organization either directly or indirectly.  While this allows an Organization to easily control the use and the branding of its data, services and products, it also has the effect of limiting the innovative use of them across different use cases and platforms. Future innovation in Apps will occur when Developers can compose apps from one or more Open APIs where Organizations have exposed their data and/or services to the world. This will enable the creation of incredibly rich apps that combine these Open APIs in ways we can’t even imagine today. Open APIs will also allow for the support of future mobile platforms by allowing the creation of apps for that platform by 3rd parties who consume the Open APIs provided by an Organization. You can see some of this today in the many apps available in the stores that provide unique and innovative ways for us to interact with social media, keep up to date on the latest news or communicate with others. These Apps would not be possible without Open APIs. Unfortunately many large organizations are not embracing Open APIs, they see more value and opportunity in strictly controlling their brand and restricting the use of their data and services. An example of this is Twitter which started out offering a rich API for its service. This led to the creation of many very creative and innovative apps many of which are now gone because of Twitter’s decision to greatly reduce the API it provides. Twitter opted to force people to use its Official Apps so that advertising and other forms of monetization could be implemented. While I can certainly understand why Twitter would want to do this, all companies want to make money, I hope this trend is only temporary because Open APIs spur innovation, competition and choice giving us a rich vibrant ever evolving ecosystem that benefits us all.

Thomas Benton AUTHOR: Thomas Benton
Thomas Benton is an Information Technology Professional with more than 20 years’ experience crafting solutions to complex business problems. Innovative, detail oriented, and with strong technical, analytical and communication skills is able to architect the best solution to a complex business problem in a timely and cost effective manner.

Posted in: API, mobile applications, Mobility, Open Innovation, Social media, SogetiLabs      
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outil-e-reputation-hotelThe successful application of Model-Based techniques (such as Model-Based Testing or Model-Driven Development) relies on the quality of the models in which the resultant artifacts are based on. In other words, a Model-Based technique assumes that the input model is valid, since the quality of the result depends on the quality of the model. If this equation is not considered, Model-Based techniques may lead to unexpected results and loss of reputation, despite their widely accepted benefits and opportunities. Therefore, several questions arise:

1. How can we pursue the quality of a functional model in a Model-Based context?

2. Do Model-Based techniques require Quality Assurance to be applied on the model?

3. What are the risks of non up-to-date models as the project goes on?

The successful application of Model-Based techniques relies on model quality. Pursing the quality of software is a marathon that finds the continuous alignment between relative truths (stakeholders’ expectations, perceptions, the current version of explicit specifications, the system behavior, etc.). In this context, requirements validation throughout a project is a common challenge since validation references are multiple and diverse and an agreement in a common view is a key aspect. Even the system implementation cannot be considered an absolute truth because it usually becomes unaligned with other validation references over time (changing requirements, new expectations, unrevealed necessities, etc.). This is why maintenance efforts need to be continuously invested in on software systems. Therefore, models also require continuous validation and maintenance to take into account observed changes. The quality of a functional model may be pursued and analyzed in practice by managing its alignment with other artifacts (tests, requirements specifications, implementation, etc.) that may potentially trigger/discover changes that may affect the current common view.

Validation requires alignment points and up-to-date evolution of the model. The usefulness and acceptance of models rely on its credibility and reputation. Model-Based techniques need to guarantee enough quality of the model during project evolution. Performing Model-Based projects without designing validation alignment points between the model and other software artifacts may lead to important risks. If, for example, a change is detected during testing and the model is not evolved accordingly, then the model becomes inconsistent and its reputation falls down because the Model-Based process cannot be applied for evolution. As in scientific progress, absence of contradictory observations is the base for acceptance and progress. We need to guarantee consistent models as time passes. Therefore, we need to detect contradictory views and solve them as soon as possible. Detecting un-alignments between the model and other artifacts and resolving them is a practical technique for models to represent with lower risks and the most up-to-date common view of the system.

In conclusion, Model-Based techniques require support by quality assurance techniques that focus on the validation and the consistent evolution of models. Existing innovation projects support the automated alignment between models and other artifacts (like tests), considering its evolution over time. If no quality evolving techniques are applied to Model-Based projects, then models become one-use artifacts, the reputation of input models decreases quickly, and software maintenance does not benefit from their potential. So… let’s pursue the alignment for successful Model-Based approaches!

 

Albert Tort AUTHOR: Albert Tort
Albert Tort is a Software Control & Testing specialist in Sogeti Spain. Previously, he served as a professor and researcher at the Services and Information Systems Engineering Department of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-Barcelona Tech. As a member of the Information Modeling and Processing (MPI) research group, he focused his research on conceptual modeling, software engineering methodologies, OMG standards, knowledge management, requirements engineering, service science, semantic web and software quality assurance.

Posted in: Innovation, Quality Assurance, SogetiLabs      
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