Invest in New but Improve Old

BLG01x_dec15Executive Summary

Emerging technologies like Big Data, Digital Analytics, Cloud, and so on are lucrative, but organization should take a step back before moving forward with investing in new initiatives.

Introduction

We live in an ocean of technology innovations where every day we get waves of new technologies.

Big data, Machine Learning, digital analytics, cloud, and so many others are new waves we have gotten in recent years that every IT company is trying to surf on. This surfing is important for companies to achieve greater market penetration, more customers and organization growth. But in the sprint of keeping themselves up with the market trend, companies are often overlooking their existing IT system issues that avert them in unleashing the power of these new technologies.

Investment into these breakthrough technologies should be done in a strategic way. Here are some questions every key technology stakeholder in a company should ask themselves and be cognizant about regarding their investment towards these new initiatives.

  • Does your company have siloed applications causing data silos?

Most companies have siloed software applications which are not integrated with other applications or information systems. These applications are often results of isolated implementations and solutions, which in turn contribute to process bottlenecks and convoluted IT infrastructure. These siloed applications also result in data silos as the data generated by this application is isolated from the rest of the organization’s data.

For instance, each business unit in large organizations may use its own applications and tools to record customer information based on their goals, priorities, and responsibilities. This allows decision makers to get holistic views of the customers and operational information across the organization. Initiatives like Big Data are essential to providing 360-degree views of customers, as well as IT and business operations, but implementing it will also fail if companies continue to have application and data silos. To burst this silo of application and data, organizations have to comprehensively rethink their current IT execution approach and foster a more collaborative, open-access work environment which can prevent formation of application and data silos.

  • Does your company have duplicative IT systems?

Most companies often want to solve problems in the quickest way which over time leads them to create duplicate systems, which causes fragmentation of information. These systems are often shaped due to limitations of the existing system, and in order to overcome those limitations the companies create another system to cater the information needed. This crude way of solving the issues not only boosts a company’s IT support and maintenance cost, but also compromises systems integrity and consistency across organizations. Prior to taking any new initiatives, organizations should take steps to consolidate these systems together to keep single versions of truth, which are critical for efficient operation of an organization.

  • Does your company implement Enterprise level or Business User level IT solutions?

Enterprise level solutions are integral parts of any information system, which are intended to solve enterprise-wide problems, introduce standardization, and help make strategic decisions. But often we see organizations implementing business user oriented solutions to facilitate impromptu service to business users.

For instance, to address the data security issue, a line of business within company may create its own data security framework as a quick solution to the business problem, but the critical issues like data security and data governance among others, should be addressed in more strategic ways through enterprise level solutions. Enterprise IT solutions also address the problem of silo applications and duplicative systems. Enterprise solutions should be implemented to integrate all systems across the organization to streamline the IT operations, standards, governance processes which are some key requirements for implementing initiatives like cloud, big data, and digital analytics.

  • Is your company IT driven or Business driven?

If your company is IT driven, and IT builds solutions with a conviction of “business will need it someday,” then you may put yourself at risk while implementing new initiatives without actually knowing the business problem that needs solving. Initiatives like digital analytics need business-driven agendas that align to companies’ goals, visions, and strategies, and can contribute to organizations’ revenue and growth. So implementing it with known business need will make sure that your investment is going from insight to action.

These are the key questions for which IT, businesses, and every key stakeholder in organizations should collaborate to solve and then decide on their strategy for executing new technology implementations.

Conclusion

Improving old issues is vital but it does not mean organizations should not be thinking about the upcoming technology trends in the market. Diagnosing fundamentals of your organization like siloed applications, duplicative systems, and IT solutions, and taking corrective actions against them should be stepping stone to harness the power of these breakthrough technologies.

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About Madhu Zode

Madhu Zode is data architect who has worked extensively in data modeling using canonical models, ETL architecture, design integration and implementation. She has published white papers in the past on "ETL Evolution" (DM Review, 2007), "Grids in Data Warehousing" (The Data Administration Newsletter, 2009) and "Canonical Data Model: Does It Actually Ease Data Modeling?” (Information Management, 2015). Madhu can be reached at madhuzode@gmail.com.

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