The Third Platform, the next phase of the IT revolution, has arrived. While the First platform was the mainframe computer and the Second was built on servers and PCs, the Third Platform is a puzzle of new technologies — social networking, cloud services, and big data analytics — run on mobile devices.
Industry analysts and researchers have noted the impact of these technologies on business. This “Nexus of Forces” is the new platform for digital business, and is transforming how businesses interact with their customers.
Business requires innovation to survive. Simply maintaining “business as usual” threatens even the largest, most established brands. The Third Platform offers the innovation organizations need in four main components – mobile, social media, the cloud, and big data — all of which are spurring growth, strengthening relationships, and improving competitiveness. IT departments, whose role typically involves overseeing the legacy IT resources, and executives planning for the future will need to fully embrace these ideas in order to stay relevant.
Drawing an IT blueprint
The Third Platform isn’t an end state – it helps organizations do business. Its cornerstone is the mobile device, and IT managers must shift their focus away from mobile device management and into maximizing productivity. The explosion of mobile computing in the work environment propels the three other spokes of the Third Platform, and IT must develop a road map to move into the new age of cloud computing and big data.
Because mobile devices are often chosen by end users, despite all the efforts to avoid this trend, a formal BYOD policy is an essential component of the Third Platform. But now organizations must is shift their focus from BYOD and mobile device management (MDM) to boosting productivity through these devices, and fully realize their ability to impact business growth and customer relationships. Organizations must also address how mobility impacts their infrastructure, security, compliance, and even procurement initiatives; the old ways of doing business are most likely no longer appropriate, and a new normal must be established to provide value to a business.
Your employees, tapping away on their mobile devices, are interacting with customers on social networks. These social networks – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others – are the second spoke of the Third Platform, and they foster the relationships that are critical for a business. But in order to keep tight controls on who is interacting with high-value customers, enterprises will need to rethink authentication protocols for the large social media services. Adopting two-step authentication controls the access – and therefore the interaction – of work-related and personal social accounts.
Next is the cloud, a catch-all term for a wide range of services that remove the confines of a 9-to-5 workday and a set physical location. Infrastructure-as-a-Service programs have altered the way IT works, removing network management roles and allowing professionals to focus on administering services. If not for accepting and leveraging this shift to cloud computing, many companies would not be as productive or profitable as they are now.
The last spoke is big data, and it may be the most abstract and hard-to-predict component of the Third Platform. This general term is used to describe the immense amount of unstructured data that is the residual output of day-to day-business. While this definition of big data is straightforward, how big data can be leveraged is still a challenge for many organizations. But in all practicality, enterprises are crunching vast quantities of this chaotic information and discovering patterns that point to new insights. Purpose-built, cloud-based solutions can leverage this data to do more than just keep a storage administrator employed.
By increasing business productivity through mobile devices and the three spokes of the Third Platform, businesses transform and grow, and provide greater value to customers. But organizations must understand their current assets and needs, and then how to leverage the technologies of the Third Platform.
Moving onto the Third Platform
Legacy infrastructure juggernauts, such as IBM, EMC, HP, and Cisco, are all placing big bets on the future of computing. Microsoft, VMware, Oracle, and the enterprise independent software vendors (ISVs) are redefining how applications are licensed and deployed. Emerging SasS developers and cloud-born service providers spring up every day with promises of game-changing productivity tools. How does an organization choose whom to place their bets with? How can IT leverage current investments and skillsets with these new resources?
The adoption of the Third Platform can seem overwhelming to executives and IT leaders that have enough on their plate in providing the required services to customers. Organizations, no matter the size or field, should work with a third-party technology expert that can present the best options for Third Platform technologies. From procurement to mobile device management to software asset management, the third-party expert can assist organizations in navigating the fluid technology trends, and help customers make informed decisions that support long- and short-term business needs.
The Third Platform, which is a blend of social interaction, cloud computing, and big data processing, all running on mobile devices, is more customer-oriented than the last two platform iterations. To get ahead of their competitors, forward-thinking organizations are using these new tools to increase sales and better engage customers. In order to stay ahead, organizations should develop a long-term blueprint on how they’ll implement these spokes of the Third Platform. An outside IT expert that specializes in the components of the Third Platform can help craft and deliver on this blueprint, starting with understanding and managing current IT assets.
How has your organization planned for the Third Platform? What challenges have you faced? Let us know by leaving a comment or question below.