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How to make your enterprise as agile as a startup

Thor Olavsrud | Jan. 29, 2014
The accepted wisdom is that startups are agile and innovative and large enterprises are followers. But these six IT trends may be changing all that, giving large enterprises the capability to compete as innovators.

Accenture says this trend empowers consumers and gives organizations real-time, relevant data that allow machines and employees to react faster and more intelligently. Accenture points to the Royal Philips Healthcare division, which is piloting a Google Glass application that gives physicians the ability to monitor a patient's vital signs and react to surgical procedural developments without having to turn away from the patient or procedure.

  • The rise of the borderless enterprise. 
    Cloud, social and collaboration technologies now allow companies to, in effect, crowdsource their workforce. Your workforce is no longer just your employees, but any willing individual connected to the Internet. Accenture points to companies like MasterCard and Facebook, which use the organization Kaggle to solve some of their toughest problems. Kaggle is a global network of computer scientists, mathematicians and data scientists who compete to solve problems that range from finding the best airline flight to optimizing retail store locations.
  • The new data supply chain. 
    Data in many large enterprises is siloed and hard to access. But forward-looking enterprises are learning to treat their data like a supply chain, allowing data to easily and usefully flow through their entire organizations and even out into their ecosystems. Accenture cites Google and Walgreens, which have adopted this approach by opening up APIs.

    It notes that more than 800,000 websites now use Google Maps data, and third-party developers are able to include the ability to scan barcodes from Walgreens' prescription bottles into their apps to make it easier for users to refill prescriptions

  • Harnessing hyperscale. 
    For more than a decade, innovation has largely focused on software. But hardware is coming into its own again as a hotbed of innovation that is making possible bigger, faster, more efficient data centers. Advances in power consumption, processors, solid state memory and infrastructure architectures are giving enterprises the opportunity to massively scale, increase efficiency, drive down costs and enable their systems to perform at higher levels than ever before. Accenture notes that all companies will see cost reductions as a result of hyperscale innovation in the data center. As companies digitize their businesses, they'll go beyond cost reductions and find the new systems enable the next wave of growth.
  • The shift from applications to apps. 
    Big, complex enterprise software systems will never disappear entirely, but many are being replaced by simpler, more modular apps that offer greater operational agility. Accenture notes that 54 percent of the highest-performing IT teams have already deployed enterprise app stores.

    As this trend continues, it will force a reassessment of the relationship between IT leaders and business leaders as they come to grips with who is going to play what role in app development. Accenture says you can also expect a transformation in the app development process itself as apps require regular software iterations to take advantage of new technologies and accelerate business growth.

  • Built to survive failure. 
    Architected resilience is becoming the name of the game as business processes, services and systems must support the nonstop demands of employees and stakeholders in the digital era. This is putting ever-greater pressure on the CIO because the value of the brand depends upon "always on" IT infrastructure, security and business processes. It requires designing systems for failure using modular technologies and advanced testing processes. Accenture points to companies like Netflix, which uses automated testing tools to deliberately attack its systems to increase resiliency.

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