Technology has always accelerated and enhanced business. Over the years, numerous views, ideas, and solutions have been considered and deployed, but none has had a greater direct impact than with today’s digital evolution, where instant demands and agility are a necessity.
This has allowed ‘anywhere operations’ to be at the forefront of the infrastructure and operations (I&O) agenda. Today, we have a distributed workforce, needing access to all kinds of data and apps securely from anywhere to anywhere, unbounded by traditional performance problems.
Not to be confused with working from home, or the traditional office environment, anywhere operations refers to business services accessed and managed across a highly distributed, shared infrastructure.
According to Gartner, anywhere operations will be one of the top 6 technology trends in 2021. The move has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and cemented through the inherent value of flexible infrastructure and the clear vulnerabilities of traditional structured processes.
With all aspects of digital technology now an embedded part of the business digital supply chain, anywhere operations can make or break a business. It will significantly impact the way a business delivers to its customers while protecting its reputation and brand – both of which are vital to future growth and sustainability.
The evolution of anywhere operations
We will frame this with a little time travel, looking back at the roots and evolution of these processes.
Is technology simply a next-generation ‘shiny new thing’ or indeed an evolution of business process that has spilled across social, political, and economic boundaries as part of everyday life? Is it really new?
Many of us have seen the ‘micro-age’ evolve and accelerate, impacting every aspect of our lives across industry, business, transportation, healthcare, and social activities – all globalized through connectivity.
The need to deliver efficiencies and innovation has driven capability through technical development: turning ideas into reality and mutating ideas to produce even greater outcomes.
The micro-computer was a giant leap in computing technology that happened over 50 years ago. In fact, one of the earliest was built in Sacramento in 1972, using an Intel 8008 microprocessor as a complete system in a box. In 1974, the first micro-computer on a chip was created by Intel with their 8080 processor, an 8-bit CPU on an integrated circuit with enough pins to support a 16-bit BUS.
That brought about a significant change in computing technology, and the micro-age kicked off its potential for the next few decades.
This technology quickly embedded into industry and manufacturing, revolutionizing business and bringing control and visibility of key processes. Albeit these were independent point solutions, and no real relationship was available with other processes to link them together. This set the scene for evolving out operational functions to a wider business structure. With this brought better visibility for manufacturers to reduce production costs and increase profitability through efficiency controls. This included reducing wastage and unnecessary stockpiling of either raw ingredients or completed output.
In the late 1970s, the ‘JIT’ (Just in Time) concept became the industry’s buzzword. That said, its real concept dates as far back as 1799, where the process was initiated by Eli Whitney with his contract with the US Army.
Henry Ford ran a similar system with his new Model-T in 1908 called ‘The Ford System’. You could even go as far as to credit Henry Ford with the infancy of anywhere operations. You could suggest his system took the concept of JIT and evolved it naturally with the idea of an assembly-line expanding to include a further examination of ‘up-stream’ and ‘down-stream’ of inputs and outputs.
Up to this point, we saw data collaboration, the relationship of key data sensors, and then business insight. The seeds were sown, and the ideas proved significantly effective and profitable.
Toyota was seen as the next big name to evolve this further, creating what is often referred to as the ‘LMPDS’ (Lean Manufacturing Production System). Today we converse about ‘Lean Business’ models across all business tiers.
The move to anywhere operations
From these early ideas and implementation, we can quickly understand that valuable outcomes can be achieved by bringing visibility into the process. Understanding how this can impact every aspect of a business’s life cycle, including its employees and customers, has never been more important.
We now have interconnected data from multiple sensors, sources available in real-time, as well as historical data. Remember, current data is the currency of tomorrow; decisions you can make effectively now will determine the future, enabling businesses to automate more and more.
History is a reference, but models have changed and become dynamic and rarely produce an effective answer. There is the need to relearn and adjust with continuous live feedback to stay abreast of the business personality and dynamics of the pay-out today, where artificial intelligence and machine learning will play an even more significant part.
Move forward over 100 years from those first glimmers of anywhere operations, and we now have sensors in almost everything we do in life, not just business, but social, environmental, and political; no landscape is untouched. This means as we have untethered our workforce and built out the inevitable virtual enterprise business landscape, social, economic, and political influences are now important business operation components.
Connectivity through wireless devices, the creation of the smartphone, the evolution of anywhere access to apps, and the development of lightweight apps for mobile devices have driven anywhere operations requirements.
Today we are driven ever further through cloud adoption and the need to reduce cost and enable agility and dynamics in the digital supply chain. With security, visibility, and performance at the core of business decision capability, this has never been more important at the time of need.
As we are now untethered and distributed within the workforce at every level, not just general business operational or functional, a realization has dawned that large-scale offices and high cost ‘in vogue’ locations are no longer important. The ability to deliver business, protect your assets and be frictionless and easy to do business with is fundamental.
Technology and tools are maturing to deliver this incredible technical wealth without the historical boundaries that have stood in the way. This has finally released the financial and operational chains on businesses, allowing them the freedom to grow in the future and to take advantage of an emerging workforce, born into a globally connected world, expecting to be enabled anywhere.
The value of visibility, security, and performance
Anywhere operations must take into account an always-on security model that protects people as well as the business. This can be achieved by enabling services and policy at point and time of need, based upon personal, live embryonic behavior, aligned with ensuring social, political, and personal well-being to build a happy, successful, engaged workforce to drive business forward.
From cloud-to-cloud edge to anywhere we want it. It is also expected just to work; if it doesn’t, we need to understand why and what can be done about it quickly.
Visibility and performance criteria map into this, where augmented, artificial and automated technologies now play an important part in enabling future business success. Across shared services with zillions of others, infrastructure needs to be there ready, waiting, and available when needed and will often be shared.
The next generation of employees expect to get what they want when they want it. Businesses need help: they want to end dilemmas that have held them back so that they can move to a ‘yes we can’ model. They need to know who can help and what they need in order to make effective decisions.
That’s where Teneo can help. We bring insightful information to the surface, so you don’t need to be a subject matter expert. No overburdened technical overhead is required, and we can help you achieve your desired outcomes.
The micro-age brought significant benefits and gains, and we have been on a plateau for quite some time. The next level is approaching, the path is unfolding, and the nano-age is dawning…at last!
Book your consultation to discuss how we can help you successfully adopt an anywhere operations infrastructure.
Blog post by Andy de Clerck, Chief Technology Officer
You might also be interested in: Free ebook: A Better Path to Anywhere Operations Success