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Where the innovation is: A look at cloud, mobile, social media


AhiGvirtsman-Caption.jpgBy Brian McDonough, Discover Performance Managing Editor


The new, all-innovation issue of Discover Performance interviews Ahi Gvirtsman, head of innovation at HP Software. He discusses what business innovation looks like, and how enterprise CIOs should approach it. In this excerpt from the conversation, Gvirtsman looks at the most innovative technology trends in IT and what they mean to the enterprise.


Q: Cloud, mobile, social, etc.—which technological innovation is most overhyped in terms of its enterprise IT value, and why? Which is most underestimated?

AG: What’s underestimated are the unique opportunities and challenges of serving an enterprise workforce. For instance, privacy concerns are a big deal for individual consumers but a lot less significant in the workplace. The real opportunity lies with those who understand the challenges of an enterprise environment and the importance of combining these four major, converging forces: cloud, social, big data, and mobility.


With that understanding, you can deliver a mobility-supportive social interaction in context that offers big data capabilities covering both structured and unstructured data and the advantages of secure cloud access. All of this has to be done while addressing real use cases that will make organizations more effective and efficient.


So the only thing that may be underestimated today is this need to provide a holistic approach, and also, especially, the importance of real-world use cases.


I think that social is the most misunderstood, and that has a lot to do with the thinking that simply accepting social media’s consumer success and introducing it to the enterprise as-is will make great things happen. It is true that people turn to their social networks through their mobile devices constantly to stay in touch with their personal social networks.


The common mistake when discussing social, in my opinion, is thinking that people will go to social tools in the workplace because it will connect them to their colleagues, and thus satisfy the same need that their personal social networks do. Social interaction in the workplace is about productivity enhancementand not a means to primarily satisfy our needs for social interaction. I think that the connection to colleagues is important, but in the sense that it is what will allow them to be more productive (which in turn will give them more time to connect with their personal social networks…). For the individual worker, workplace social interactions are a means to an end, not the end in itself, and that’s a subtle yet critical distinction that must be made.


I’ve blogged about enterprise social tools designed in the expectation of something magical happening by simply bringing people together and called it the “Kumbaya effect.” It’s my belief that the attempt to clone consumer social tools and bring them to the workplace is not the right way. It has to do with the different mechanics of a social interaction compared to a task-oriented one. It also has a lot to do with the fundamentally different mindset a person is in when working compared to socializing. Most people will find it very uncomfortable having to constantly switch between being task oriented and socializing. That’s also why I don’t think we will be using the same tools for work as we do for socializing. There may be many similarities, but the tools will be different.


For more on innovation in the enterprise and the trends that can fuel it, read the full interview with Ahi Gvirtsman, and the rest of our innovation issue, at HP’s Discover Performance. For more insights on improving IT performance, subscribe to the Discover Performance ezine.

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