It is not unusual that new technologies and innovations turn the normal operation of the business world upside down. As Information Technology has gained more and more ground, these “upheavals” have become more frequent and often more profound. Nonetheless, the developments of the recent years have indeed brought about something new in the world of IT: for the first time in history, it is not business solutions that permeate everyday life, but the other way around.
Technology is everywhere. More and more solutions targeted at individual users are being adopted by companies for business use. All of these solutions, hand in hand with changing employee habits, have a fundamental impact on business operation, let alone on the future of corporate systems.
“The change is evident in other areas as well. In the past 10-15 years, basically all information media that used to exist in a physical form turned into digital data,” Achilles Georgiu continues. Documents, books, sounds, music, pictures, and films, and now even money can be stored and shared electronically. Moreover, an increasing number of the elements of our physical environment are being transformed into data: thanks to 3D printers, objects can be digitized, and via sensory data collection, the changes of the physical environment can be converted into electronic data.
As a result of the changes above, practically an infinite amount of data will be produced, more easily accessible for more people than ever. In this new era, data will constitute a new natural resource whose abundance, however, will also produce difficulties. Data does not equal to information, just as information does not mean that we gain the knowledge out of it: in order for that, the data gathered needs to be systematized, processed, and interpreted.
The ultimate aim of information technology will be to obtain this knowledge. Corporate systems in the future will not be organized around applications, but the other way around: the information will determine the system itself. “Earlier we developed applications in order to generate data. But now the data is available, so we are developing applications primarily in order to process and interpret the data,” says Achilles Georgiu.
Many believe that this also indicates that the third generation of information technology has come. The early 1900s were dominated by tabulating systems capable of doing simple calculations. Then with the advent of electronic computers in the 1950s, we entered the era of programming when we were looking for exact results in structured data with the help of machine languages. As of today the time of cognitive systems is around the corner: we are trying to point out probabilities in diverse data with the use of natural language by exploring reiterative phenomena, patterns, and anomalies.
The new era will have an impact on the architecture of the IT systems of enterprise companies as well. Today a typical corporate IT solution is constructed around a system supporting the core activity. This system is surrounded by other subsystems specialized in subtasks which were adapted later, and which utilize new technologies like cloud computing, mobile and social media technologies, security, and last but not least, Big Data and Analytics.
However, new technologies and their application have reached a level where their synergies trigger an exponentially accelerating business impact. This means that innovative enterprises of tomorrow are using new technologies organically, differently.
Three core systems will constitute the backbone of enterprises’ IT. One of them will be the descendent of today’s central system supporting the core activity, fitted to the requirements of the age, the so called “system of record.” The second core system will grow out of present-day data-analyzing solutions (“system of insight”): its task will be to expose deeper, less evident connections from the wealth of data available and to utilize these connections in order to increase the competitive advantage. Finally, the third core system will replace current mobile and social media applications (“system of engagement”): its task will be to exploit the communication channels that have recently developed and become important for more efficient contact with customers and employees.
It is quintessential that these three systems do not run independently from each other in separate silos, but partially overlap so that each of them has a shared set with another. These sections and points of intersection will be the most important domains of company innovation.
These three interconnected core systems will be surrounded by cloud computing that provides the necessary capacity, speed, and economy of scales. Finally, all of the above mentioned systems will be blanketed by pervasive security intelligence protecting not the individual applications, but the entire system from threats and sophisticated attacks.
How does such a company work? Achilles Georgiu lists several features that characterize data-rich, i.e. analytics-driven, companies of generation-D. One of their most important traits is that they possess not only analytical systems and abilities, but they also put them to use: processes and decisions are supported by the appropriate analytics. These analytics do not draw on a single source, and they do not only examine the past: they utilize complex, structured data as well as unstructured ones, and they make predictions based on that. Analytically driven enterprises do not shrink away from carrying out analytics in the cloud, not even on their core business data. In order to shape their strategy, they actively involve their customers whom they reach through mobile and social media channels. “And a key point without which the whole thing would not be worth a dime: they transform not only their technology, but their company culture as well,” Achilles Georgiu adds.