Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Changing the way IT works and provides service

I recently came across couple of articles in the economist which made me think that use of technology is becoming so pervasive in our day to day lives that people are forgetting the boundaries. One article talks about how 3D printing is changing the world of manufacturing and challenging the existing norms on factory placement (BTW this is not new technology as I had played with this technology nearly 15 years ago and back then it was called Stereolithography and HPM was the first company in Australia to use it in ager). The other talks about how software is used to predict how and when civil war or unrest can happen.

Both these cases show a world that requires a new breed of people who can walk the grey area between Business and IT comfortably. A breed that can comfortably have the discussion with senior business stakeholders about revenue leakage through not invoking CPI increases in the contract. And then turn around to work with technologist to identify solutions that can scan existing contracts to extract metadata related to CPI increases and then integrate the same with customer information in CRM.

Question then becomes are we training and creating enough of these grey zone walkers within our organisations or do we leave this to accidental outcomes of the right person at the right time for innovative examples of solution below.

Extract from Economist below:

The third industrial revolution

The digitisation of manufacturing will transform the way goods are made—and change the politics of jobs too.

THE first industrial revolution began in Britain in the late 18th century, with the mechanisation of the textile industry. Tasks previously done laboriously by hand in hundreds of weavers’ cottages were brought together in a single cotton mill, and the factory was born. The second industrial revolution came in the early 20th century, when Henry Ford mastered the moving assembly line and ushered in the age of mass production. The first two industrial revolutions made people richer and more urban. Now a third revolution is under way. Manufacturing is going digital. As this week’s special report argues, this could change not just business, but much else besides.

A number of remarkable technologies are converging: clever software, novel materials, more dexterous robots, new processes (notably three-dimensional printing) and a whole range of web-based services. The factory of the past was based on cranking out zillions of identical products: Ford famously said that car-buyers could have any colour they liked, as long as it was black. But the cost of producing much smaller batches of a wider variety, with each product tailored precisely to each customer’s whims, is falling. The factory of the future will focus on mass customisation—and may look more like those weavers’ cottages than Ford’s assembly line.

The science of civil war What makes heroic strife

FOR the past decade or so, generals commanding the world’s most advanced armies have been able to rely on accurate forecasts of the outcomes of conventional battles. Given data on weather and terrain, and the combatants’ numbers, weaponry, positions, training and level of morale, computer programs such as the Tactical Numerical Deterministic Model, designed by the Dupuy Institute in Washington, DC, can predict who will win, how quickly and with how many casualties.

Guerrilla warfare, however, is harder to model than open battle of this sort, and the civil insurrection that often precedes it is harder still. Which, from the generals’ point of view, is a pity, because such conflict is the dominant form of strife these days. The reason for the difficulty is that the fuel of popular uprisings is not hardware, but social factors of a type that computer programmers find it difficult to capture in their algorithms. Analysing the emotional temperature of postings on Facebook and Twitter, or the telephone traffic between groups of villages, is always going to be a harder task than analysing physics-based data like a tank’s firing range or an army’s stocks of ammunition and fuel.

Harder, but not impossible. For in the war-games rooms and think-tanks of the rich world’s military powers, bright minds are working on the problem of how to model insurrection and irregular warfare. Slowly but surely they are succeeding, and in the process they are helping politicians and armies to a better understanding of the nature of rebellion.