Business Scenario: Open Platform 3.0™ – Business Scenario Problem Description


Technical developments such as mobile computing, social computing, big data analytics, the Internet of things, and cognitive computing give enterprises opportunities for business innovation, and a combination of two or more of these technologies offers powerful capabilities that can potentially transform or disrupt the business operating model.

Enterprise business departments want to be able to use these technologies, together with information processing, storage, and communication technologies, easily, as and when needed, but they do not want to devote substantial time and effort to understanding and operating the technologies.

Specialist technology providers and integrators, and enterprise IT departments, want to support the business departments by providing solutions. The cloud service paradigm is now accepted as the best way to do this, but there are many different ways in which it can be used.

Business departments want solutions that follow common practice and conform to standards. Common practice and standards for the new technical developments are still emerging, and there is no standard platform on which they can be deployed and used.

Lack of common practice and standards, and of a standard platform, is limiting the ability of enterprises to gain business advantage from the technical developments.

This is restricting take-up of the technologies, giving product and service suppliers, and integrators, a small market.

The Enterprise Information Environment

What the Analysts Say

Industry analysts agree on the importance of the new technical phenomena.

Gartner uses the term “Nexus of Forces” to describe the convergence and mutual reinforcement of social, mobility, cloud, and information patterns that drive new business scenarios [Gartner]. Gartner says that, although these forces are innovative and disruptive on their own, together they are revolutionizing business and society, disrupting old business models and creating new leaders. Gartner sees the Nexus as the basis of the technology platform of the future.

IDC predicts that worldwide IT spending will exceed $2.1 trillion in 2013, up 5.7% from 2012. Smart mobile devices will generate more than 50% of this growth. From 2013 through 2020, a combination of social cloud, mobile, and big data technologies will drive around 90% of all the growth in the IT market. IDC uses the term “third platform” to describe this combination [IDC].

The Need for a Platform

The UNIX® operating system provided a standard platform for applications on a single computer. Servers, PCs, and the Internet provided a second platform for web applications and services. We need a third platform to support applications and services that use cloud, social, and mobile computing, big data, and the Internet of things.

We need a standard third platform, rather than a mish-mash of products that are intended for specific situations and do not work together. Innovation adds value. Unnecessary differentiation blocks take-up and kills growth. With any new technology, a point is reached where the innovation is done. At that point, standardization is needed to allow full exploitation. That point will be reached in the next few years for the new technologies that are driving business innovation. A standard platform will enable users to use the combination of these technologies effectively and at low cost, and will give vendors a worthwhile market.

It is, however, not clear what form that platform should take. The world has moved on since the days of the UNIX system, and even since the more recent days when the Internet and the World-Wide Web became established. It is the purpose of this Business Scenario to develop an understanding of today’s business and technical environment, and describe the fundamental requirements of the new platform.

The platform – whatever form it may take – is referred to here as Open Platform 3.0.

Platform 3.0 need not provide new digitization capabilities in and by itself. It should make strategic digitization capabilities like big data analysis, social networking, mobility, the Internet of things, and Cloud Computing more integrated and especially much more accessible by firms, their clients, and their customers. The Open Group Platform 3.0 standardization effort should promote interoperability standards that protect the investments made by firms and consumers in the technologies and therefore be a vital cornerstone in the uptake of and sustained benefit realization from them.

The final sections of this Business Scenario describe a set of requirements for Open Platform 3.0 and identify the next steps towards its development. As a starting point, we look in this section at the problems that end users, IT departments, solution creators, and product and service suppliers are encountering with the new, disruptive technologies.

End User Pain Points

People want to use new technologies to exploit new business opportunities. Competition is fierce, and the pace of events is rapid. An opportunity may have a short business window making it impossible to wait for lengthy architecture development work. How, then, can they create effective IT solutions to support their business visions?

People want to take advantage of data obtained from new sources, including social media and the Internet of things, to make business decisions, and to make them quickly, but:

  • They do not know how to find patterns in and predict trends from the data.
  • They do not know how far to believe the data.

People want to use IT services that are available “on the cloud” but are not sure whether to trust them.

The quality of these services is often not adequate.

There is a mass of information available, but it is not clear who owns it. For example, for healthcare information, is the owner the surgeon, the physician, the pharmacist, the drug company, or the patient?

It is impossible to control access to the information that you own so that it is available to just the right people. There is a lack of fine-grained information classification and access control.

Solutions from different vendors do not inter-operate, and it is hard to replace a solution from one vendor with an equivalent solution from another vendor.

The sheer volume of data may make it impossible to move data from one cloud service to another.

Lack of policy and guidance is a block to take-up of new services – customers do not so much fear that the services are insecure as lack the confidence to use them.

IT Department Pain Points

Business departments are buying systems directly, but they do so without thought for long-term needs. The systems may not be suitable for use in the long term, leading to additional purchases and higher cost.

Piecemeal purchases and decisions that are micro-optimized for particular lines of business lead to sub-optimal overall architecture. There is duplication of resources, costs are unnecessarily high, and there may be security issues.

The business departments do not have the skills needed to integrate and support the systems that they purchase. They ask the IT departments, but the IT departments may not have skills or capacity to look after the purchased systems either.

The contracts agreed by the business departments may not be very good, and the IT departments may need to re-negotiate service contracts with suppliers and with lines of business.

Purchase of IT by business departments and “bring your own device” (BYOD) mean that traditional IT governance no longer works, making it hard to ensure compliance with rules and regulations, and hard to maintain budgetary control. There is a lack of transparency of what services are used.

With BYOD, it is important to be able to isolate business data from personal data and personal applications, but this can be hard.

There are vendor solutions, but no standards. Vendor lock-in – by brokers and cloud service providers, as well as system vendors – is an issue.

Companies with major investment in existing infrastructure see change as a threat to the return on that investment.

Solution Creator Pain Points

The new technology services are difficult to use.

There is an exponential proliferation of APIs. It is difficult to find the right ones to use.

It is difficult to “mix and match” technology services from different providers.

It is difficult to integrate information from disparate sources. There is no single application or set of applications to capture and integrate information.

There are no reference models, reference architectures, or guidelines for integrating technologies such as social, mobile, analytics, and cloud within an enterprise ecosystem, so that each organization must invent its own solution and cannot build on what others have done.

Cloud services and cloud brokers enable user enterprises to focus on their core businesses, but some customers are reluctant to use them.

It is hard to design solutions that meet security and regulatory requirements.

Vendor lock-in is an issue for solution creators, in two ways. First, there is the danger of lock-in to the vendors on whose products and services their solutions are based. Second, their customers may believe that they are being locked in to their solutions.

Meeting customer expectations of big data analysis can be difficult. There is a limit to how much data can be analyzed in real time.

There is a lack of understanding – by solution creators as well as their customers – of the commercial framework within which they now operate. They need to understand their roles.

Projects are getting smaller. It is not possible to recover the sales overhead for a traditional integration project if the project is small.

Product and Service Supplier Pain Points

Users’ business departments do not understand the products they buy. They need much more support than IT departments.

User CIOs want to innovate, not just run their IT cheaper, but vendors do not understand their businesses. The vendors’ sales teams must put in more effort to understand the business transformations that the buyers can have. They may need new pricing strategies to address business users rather than IT departments.

Companies with major investment in existing infrastructure see change as a threat to the return on that investment.

There is a lack of understanding – by product and service suppliers as well as their customers – of the commercial framework within which they now operate. They need to understand their roles.