Advanced Technology Believed to Be Key To Solving Country’s Problems

IT Strategy No Comments

According to a recent Harris Poll, most Americans believe that advanced technology” will play a critical role in solving many of the country’s problems. The top 4 technology driven catalysts to recover from the current slump include:

  1. Innovation and “technology sciences” in education  – 73%
  2. Investing in hybrids and alternative fuels – 71% – acting as a support for the failing U.S. auto industry.
  3. Production of “green products and services” – 67%
  4. Management of medical records – 67%

Source: Harris Poll

Overcoming Common BI Program Mistakes

BI Program, BI Strategy, IT Strategy No Comments

The business environment is a complex interplay of internal and external forces that must be supported by agile, efficient and compliant technology. Business intelligence technology is the most affected capability by under-performing IT infrastructure and stagnant, poor quality information.

In an attempt to provide a quick fix to an organizations business intelligence needs, common errors come into play that not only prevent the speedy solution, but can plague a more robust BI program implementation.

The most common BI Program mistakes largely involve incorrect assumptions: Read the rest…

BI Cited ‘Top Technology’ for 2009

Analyst Reports, BI Strategy, Cloud Computing, CRM Solutions, IT Strategy, SaaS No Comments

The latest Gartner 2009 CIO Agenda survey of 1500 CIO’s has revealed some surprising and not so surprising results.

Firstly, the not so surprising is that BI has been voted as the top technology for 2009, after all BI has held this spot since 2006.  What is surprising is that the focus is not on analytics – the survey indicated that the top CIO business expectation was in improving business processes. This surprised me, as many companies have supposedly already been through this era – or maybe is just wasn’t done well enough. The other inference I have made is that BI is now focusing on the operational value it contributes – what we refer to as OBI.

The rankings of exectations and technologies are:

Expectations

  1. Reducing enterprise costs
  2. Improving enterprise workforce effectiveness
  3. Attracting and retaining new customers [#2 in 2008]
  4. Creating new products or services [#3 in 2008], however innovation is forecast to move up the ladder to top spot by 2012.

 IT Strategies

  1. Tighter link between business and IT strategies
  2. Reducing the cost of IT [#10 in 2008]
  3. Delivering projects that enable growth
  4. Attracting, developing and retaining IT personnel

 Technologies

  1. Business intelligence [BI] [ since 2006]
  2. Enterprise applications such as CRM or ERP
  3. Servers and storage technologies.

 The survey results overall are not surprising. As the current market is hardly conducive to growth strategies for most businesses, it is an ideal time to refocus on core business and get better at the basics. BI is known for its ability to improve productivity whilst reducing costs. We can not overlook the past carnage of poorly implemented BI projects and tools that were too difficult for most business users to integrate into their daily operations. However, in the past two years this scenario has changed signficiantly, with tools much more business oriented and the knowledge base of implementation best practice taking learnings from the past and crafting far better BI program practices of today. The other missing link I will personally add is the level of education the business receives, not in using BI but in why they should be using it, and exactly how it improves a business from single user self performance management all the way up to the boardroom strategy.

Virtualisation, cloud computing and software-as-a-service [SaaS] are also acknowledged as cost reducing strategies but many IT managers are still cautious around availability, security, and a full functional fit. Such technologies are gaining favor with mid to small enterprises that may not have the full IT capabilities of larger corporates.

Overall,  although BI is voted the top technology for 2009, the ‘killer app’ is ‘Leadership’. Companies don’t want consultants giving them a set of options – they want strong leadership paths to drive their businesses through the current downturn and still come out having advanced in some way. It may not be with customer growth and revenue growth, but I expect we will see leaner and meaner businesses forging ahead with renewed vigor and tighter focus.

Survey base: N=1500 CIOs worldwide, Duration= 3 months to Dec 15, 2008. Average company size = 400, average IT budget = $90 million.

Real Learnings From Real BI Implementations

BI Strategy, Data, IT Strategy No Comments

There is a lot written on best in class practices for deploying BI in operational business intelligence projects. For some real world examples with more specifics on ‘How To’, this post on CIO.com India offers insights from several companies.

Two key requirements in most projects focus on moving data closer to the business and monitoring all data though a single system. However, in reality most projects have found that processes don’t fit neatly into single systems.

Data is still consolidated into a single data warehouse where formats can be transformed and analytic rules applied. For example, time-critical information such as production data is gathered more frequently and often supplemented with other types of operational data, however rather than using the data warehouse as the platform for real-time data analysis discrete software tools are used to analyze transactional data.

Attempting real time analyses typically requires a big infrastructure upgrade that may not be economically justified in many companies. Not all processes — or even most — need to be monitored in real-time. Latency schedules should not be driven from the data availability end, but rather from the information consumption perspective. Most businesses struggle to conume information on more than a daily basis. Unless the data relates to mission critical transactions, real time is not required.

Selecting the right kind of data for real-time analysis, is based around what information provides insight into completion rate baselines. Data providing insight into how customers are using products or how to optimize business processes is not always required in real time.

BI in Gartners 2009 Top Tech List

BI Infrastructure, BI Market, Cloud Computing, IT Strategy No Comments

Gartner has released its Top Tech list for 2009, and BI sits at #9. This years top strategic technology is very much based at the infrastructure, rather than the application level with Virtualization, cloud computing, computing fabric, web-oriented architecture and unified communications. This has somewhat overpowered the strategic value of BI, but is significant to BI in that it focuses attention to the underlying capability that BI requires to perform at its best.

To be included on Gartners list, the technology must possess more than just inherent features and funcitonality. It must be capable of being applied across multiple platforms and have real value to business.

Virtualization – is transforming corporate IT infrastructure at both the server and desktop level.

Cloud Computing – is the buzz phrase in IT today, so it is no wonder that it hit the strategic list at number two. Cloud computing will have a signficant impact on the way technology is deployed in organizations and will add support to SaaS models in all application fields.

Comuting Fabrics – at number 3, [#8 in 2008] server technology ‘Computing Fabrics’ combines server technology resources to enable them to be dispensed with their underlying pools of small, medium and large servers. Blade servers have some computing fabric capability – being able to move memory and processor capability.

Following the top three are:

4. Web-oriented Architecture – impacting the SOA model for services delivery, this architecture uses Web standards, identifiers, formats and protocols.

5. Enterprise Mashups – up from #6, applies the wizardary of contentmashups to allow users to employ public APIs to quickly combine various services and capabilities; extending the flexibility business users have to combine data inside and outside the enterprise.

6. Specialized Systems – new to the list, includes all those specialized appliances for Java, data warehousing and other processes. Not quite sure where this one will end as it is a dumping ground for all the less significant technologies, that when applied together become significant.

7. Social Software and Social Networking – up from #10, these tools extend collaboration efforts across organizations.

8. Unified Communications – aligned to number 7 above, and down from the second spot last year, Gartner anticipates a major consolidation of communications vendors through unified communications.

9. Business intelligence – new to the list, although surprising it hasn’t made it in the past. However, the reality of BI has dawned with the increase in computing power making BI tools more effective and efficient. The focus on BI has moved from core analytics as a distinct function to operational BI, embedded into business processes supporting automated decision making and exception management.

10. Green IT – the top contender in 2008 has lost ground to the bottom spot but has not diminished in importance. Sustainability is now woven into the fabric of IT strategy and as such is no longer seen as a separate capability but an inherent requirement of all corporate operations and technology.