Changing the weather

One: Adopting standards is obviously important but that helps everyone. So no disruption. But suppose a group of vendors came together in pre-competitive collaboration to share processes as well as standards. That would certainly give that vendor network - a Smart Business Network -- a disruptive edge.

Two: Cloud computing is another form of collaboration - shared storage and infrastructure. Who, though, is going to gain advantage if everyone does the same? Again, no disruption. But suppose that Smart Business Network collaborates to build an advanced cloud platform plus the processes and models to integrate ERP, CRM, learning, research, doc management, etc. More important, the Smart Business Network would have a mandate to drive a system-wide integrated solution, which is invariably better than a simple add-on. Costs for systemic innovation are normally too high for companies going it alone.

Three: When we talk about enterprise - both as customer and vendor - we need to talk about enterprise in the future, not the twentieth century version that hinders more innovation than it helps. Today’s monolithic enterprise primarily serves Wall Street where mergers, acquisitions and dubious financial instruments are the preferred tools. In that kind of ecosystem, initiatives for operational disruption and systemic innovation are starved, not just for cash but for attention. But suppose we recognize that business agility offers more rewards for more stakeholders than the efficiencies of scale? Future enterprise will still be about scale but less so. Instead we will see smaller, more nimble organizations able to adapt rapidly to opportunities and business climates. If those organizations are part of a Smart Business Network nimbly sharing resources - processes, standards, models, teams, customers, etc. - then they will help create a larger market and enjoy a piece of the collective disruption pie. But that piece will still be much bigger than than the largest slice of today’s business-as-usual pie.

Four: Module standardization as proposed by ETSI is certainly a valuable initiative but, once again, where’s the disruption? And how much are players likely to contribute to such an initiative if everyone benefits? But suppose a group of players with a solid plan and better resources came up with a better suite of modules? A Smart Business Network could do that because its members would be aligned on a vision, a business model and the promise of genuine disruption.

Five: M2M solutions are just one part of a much larger challenge of business transformation. If you’re thinking business transformation is ‘not my job’, then you’re just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. You’re part of the problem because you can’t imagine how much M2M is going to change nearly every facet of business as we know it today. Your solutions will likely be merely incremental. No disruption. But suppose you worked in a network that operated holistically, where the goal for everyone was sustainable value for everyone including customers and the public. Solutions like that can be engineered with pre-competitive collaboration to create a larger market. Without addressing business transformation, adoption of M2M solutions will be slower and more piecemeal because of the costs. And because of the adversarial battle to capture value, solutions will be stingy and the collateral damage to employees and the public will continue to be high.

Six: Telcos have missed the boat indeed. Their products and services are now commodities and there is little to justify their blue chip status. Managed service providers and other piranha are circling the still-breathing carcasses. These small, nimble companies have the talent to deliver value-added services on top of the telco commodity services but the little guys are not hobbled by share price, pensions, massive payrolls and an aging monolithic business model. But suppose telcos could still turn that around? They could, perhaps, by joining vendors and others in Smart Business Networks. It may only slow the devolution of telcos as we know them today but, at least, it may prevent a tragic crash when customers finally realize the emperor has no clothes.

Seven: To say IT is an integral part of the enterprise environment is actually saying more than appears on the surface. For too long, IT departments have been silos where the techies simply complied to requests from the business side for tools and solutions. Although efforts are being made to integrate business and IT, by hiring CIOs with business experience and by embedding IT in business units, there is still much to be done. But suppose integral means more than just integrated. In fact the word integral is a term from holistic and systems thinking, and it means more than integrated. It speaks to interdependence. To be integral, more people in IT need to be proactive and to really understand business needs. And vice versa. There are hopeful signs of evolving integral enterprise to be found in new collaborative business process modeling tools that are as simple for executives to use as for techies. But more is required, especially in the area of shared learning.

Obviously, we’re promoting something. It’s a model for business transformation and a very specific plan for enterprise mobility. It’s called Mobile Process Services.