Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category

How wise is your organisation?   Leave a comment

If wisdom can be defined as knowledge in action, on what are you basing your actions? How thorough, even relevant, is the knowledge you have?

How well do you know your markets, your employees and your competitors? How well do you know the systems in place in your business or not-for-profit? Do you know their efficiency or their effectiveness? Are you relying upon gut feel, what people are telling you, or do you have empirical evidence to back things up?

For the better knowledge you have, the better decisions you will make. All leading to a reputation of wisdom.

Where you are known for making right judgements.

And in this information-rich milieu, where the cost of collecting and analysing that information is forever falling, the question is – are you taking advantage of your data resources?

Are you, if you will, fully exploiting the “low-hanging data fruit” in your organisation?

Let’s say you are manufacturing widgets. Let’s assume that a rich stream of data is available from each point in that transformation process, surely the cost of storing that data is negligible! And what about the calculations on that data? Think of the improvements that could be made by looking at the relationships between the data streams from various points in the transformation process.

Let’s say you are dealing with information. Let’s assume that what is produced, ie reports/recommendations/decisions is dependent upon other sources of information. How easy is it to find the right data in those other sources of information? Surely the cost of automatically extracting that data is much less than the manual cost of extracting it? Think of the quality improvements that would flow into that set of reports/recommendations/decisions.

With the manufacturing industry example, the low-hanging data fruit is process efficiency. With the service industry example, the low-hanging data fruit is also process efficiency. The former is data collection that leads to performance improvement. With the latter, its data presentation that leads to performance improvement. And where the resulting knowledge from performance improvement leads to wiser outcomes.

The key point here is that we must reframe our approach to information. We must think critically about how we use the data we have.

For judgements that are more right will follow.

 

For more of what I have to offer, visit Dellium Advisory, follow on Twitter, connect using LinkedIn, or review my strategy and futures-centric blog.

Justifying IT Investments   1 comment

What is often the case in decision making regarding IT investments is a focus on the cost of the investment to the exclusion of the benefits.

We focus on the licensing fees, the project management costs, the interruptions the changes will cause, and so on. But we don’t fairly assess the benefits. We don’t attempt to quantify what the positive outcomes will be. For after all, it is about wielding technology for the improvement of information flows. It is about getting better systems in dealing with the organisation’s information.

Seen in this light, IT projects should be measured with respect to the business process improvements they will make.

Alshawi, Irani and Baldwin in a 2003 study highlighted the fact that IT investment is about improvements to productivity improvement and competitive advantage. That any organisational and process gains come from the use of information technology, not from the information technology itself. And that these advances and enhancements are quantifiable through the following process:

  1. identification of benefits
  2. the changes needed to realise the benefits
  3. execution of these identified changes
  4. evaluation of the results of these changes
  5. discovery of further benefits

This benefits appraisal and management process speaks to the need for information technology projects to be aligned to the business vision to realise the full impact that these systems can bring. By including quantifications of investment outcomes using these terms, improvements in the robustness of the justifications for these IT investment decisions will ensue.

 

For more, visit Dellium Advisory, follow on Twitter, connect using LinkedIn, or review my strategy and futures-centric blog.

Posted August 11, 2014 by terop in Architecture, ICT Strategy, Innovation

A Mobile-first & Cloud-first era   Leave a comment

As a long time tech company watcher – say Google, IBM, Microsoft, and so on – its interesting to observe the changes in their emphases. With what they see as their competitive advantage in the years ahead.

Take Microsoft’s recent shift from “a devices and services company” to “a productivity and platform company for the mobile-first & cloud-first world”.

That implies that they see an inexorable shift to mobile computing. They see the end of the traditional server room.

But what are the implications for those that use computing and those that supply computing?

  1. location independent interaction with organisations will be assumed
  2. convenience and responsiveness will be the only acceptable customer service experience
  3. unlimited computing power will be available to organisations
  4. the ability to use information will be critical
  5. the security of the organization’s information will be critical
  6. internal ICT users will expect the same mobile-first & cloud-first experience as customers do
  7. the ICT portfolio will be skewed toward SaaS
  8. a reduction in the headcount of internal ICT support staff

The world is changing, and technology leaders like Microsoft are changing in order to keep up with the times. In order to survive and thrive.

Are you?

For more, visit Dellium Advisory, follow on Twitter, connect using LinkedIn, or review my IT-centric blog.

Are you getting the best from your IT?   Leave a comment

A recent report on how well IT is being used in business was an eye opener.

This report showed that only 1 in 5 businesses with less than 25 employees thought that having an IT strategy was good for their business, whilst this proportion rose to 1 in 3 for larger organisations.

What does that mean? The implications are that there is little direction regarding IT’s:

  • governance
  • measurement
  • organisational structure
  • processes
  • service portfolio
  • sourcing

The consequence of this is that IT is largely reactionary, it’s plans are not in synch with the host organisation. That the returns from any investment in IT are not being fully realised. That even security may be threatened, or opportunities may be missed.

So, where to from here. Well, two things. First a check list and then some action.

The check list:

  • governance: do you have policies in place for computer usage, security and business continuity?
  • measurement: how easy is it to get reports of internet usage, data capacity and fault resolution times?
  • organisational structure: have you got the right people doing the right jobs for the right reasons?
  • processes: are things going smoothly, are internal systems right for the job?
  • service portfolio: what services do IT provide and are these the right ones?
  • sourcing: should you insource or completely outsource, are you getting value for money from your current provider(s)?

And the action:

  • decide on the suite of business objectives
  • review your current set of processes, applications, data and technology
  • create a new, or upgraded set of processes, applications, data and technology to suit your business objectives
  • and finally, bring about the change

 

For more, see Dellium Advisory, follow me on Twitter, see my organisational strategy blog Strategy, or connect with me on LinkedIn

Posted July 4, 2014 by terop in Architecture, ICT Strategy, Policies

Does your ICT Strategy support “two heads are better than one”?   Leave a comment

Let’s draw a thread here. To deductively, if you will, draw a conclusion.

Firstly, it is a given that compared with businesses that don’t, those that do engage in strategic planning perform much better in a wide range of statistics. Whether sales growth, profitability, return on investments, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, or even survival, a business that lifts its eyes toward the horizon and navigates a path toward it will do well.

Second, the milieu that we are entering is one based on collaboration. Is one based on partnering to produce innovation, to create new. It is where the economy, in broad terms, is dynamic and changing fast. Where two heads will always be better than one.

Third, a growing trend in business application are those geared toward enhancing “virtual” collaboration. Its moving away from email and physical meetings toward categories such as cloud-based file sharing & other enterprise apps. Toward a greater use of social media.

And so, how easy is it for “the business” to collaborate using the tools that IT provide? How quickly can users respond to changes in their business environment?

To continue realising the real gains from strategic planning, are those plans including IT that will facilitate the “two heads are better than one” approach?

For more, see Dellium Advisory, follow me on Twitter, see my organisational strategy blog Strategy, or connect with me on LinkedIn

Posted June 10, 2014 by terop in Architecture, Cloud Computing, ICT Strategy, Innovation

Mix it up – consider a hybrid cloud approach   Leave a comment

Is it all or nothing? That is should you have an IaaS-only approach, or go all-in on a complete suite of SaaS?

Or should you use the hybrid-cloud approach?

Are you listening to vendors who are saying, “well, we’ve got the best solution for all your IT needs” or are you stepping back and considering what works best for your situation?

Should you consider mixing it up? I dare say you already do. Disparate databases, different standards and technology across your range of applications. So, there’ll be nothing new for you by having a hybrid cloud approach.

And what is a hybrid cloud approach? Its a mix of private and public cloud technology. You might have your archives on a public cloud platform (ie. Amazon AWS’s “Data Archival Solution”), but run the finance application from your data centre. Others may choose to have their payment gateway hosted externally, but the related corporate data held internally.

With the decisions you make there are 6 factors to consider. Ultimately, will there be improvements in IT’s:
– governance
– measurement
– organisational structure
– processes
– service portfolio
– sourcing

It’s not just the lowest cost, or what seems easy and straightforward. There are many factors in considering a hybrid cloud approach.

For more, see Dellium Advisory, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on LinkedIn

How complex does your IT need to be? Try SaaS   Leave a comment

Exactly what business are you in?

Do you have an army of HR professionals, an array of people looking after accounts payed and received?

No? Well, why do you have an extensive group of IT professionals?

If you don’t and your IT isn’t working properly – that may be the reason. But that’s a topic for another day.

Asking from a different perspective, how may applications do you have? How complex is your business model?

Could your back-office functions be all done in one package and that package hosted on the internet?

You see, SaaS – software as a service – is just that. It’s a package, an application that is hosted by a vendor you trust that does the work you need it to do. Instead of that application being hosted internally, with all the attendant support and upgrade needs, all of the “lights-on” activity is taken care by that third party.

But, as with everything in IT, its just not that simple. There is the security of your data to consider. There are the linkages to other applications. There are some considerations around how close that data is in that potentially hosted application to your key intellectual property, how critical it is to your continued operation.

SaaS, that top layer, may be for you.

For more, see Dellium Advisory, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on LinkedIn

Got great computing ideas? Need IT infrastructure cost reduction? Well, try PaaS!   Leave a comment

Here’s some questions to ponder:

How much are you spending on IT infrastructure?
How do you currently develop applications?
How do you improve what you have?
What platforms do you have for those great ideas?

Well, PaaS – Platform as a Service – might be right for you.

With PaaS you don’t need to worry about the servers, the network, the storage and all of the trouble associated with these three. The provider takes care of that for you.

With PaaS you get a suite of tools and an application hosting environment.

So, how does this apply to you? Well, if you are in a standard IT shop – it may be that a lot of the infrastructure support costs could be done away with by reframing your cloud computing model search away from looking at the whole IT stack (applications, data & technology) to just the application and data layers.

That 70-80% of your IT budget which is spent on just keeping the lights going, could well drop significantly if you choose the right cloud computing model.

And what of your application developing, testing and deployment environment? Is it just on that Office PC or do you have to “fight” for resources on the virtual server farm. By considering PaaS a bit more robustness may be achieved for your work.

For more, see Dellium Advisory, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on LinkedIn

Cloud Computing for your organisation? Well, try IaaS   Leave a comment

IaaS, Infrastructure as a Service.

Here’s some questions:
1. Do you have your own datacenter, or are you sharing a facility?
2. What is the age of the infrastructure? That is, the servers and the network switches?
3. How extensive is virtualisation? 100% of your servers? 50% of your servers?
4. And what is in the pipeline for application upgrades and/or replacements or even new applications over the next year or two?

Recently I performed a simple calculation. Given the life of a SAN is say 5 years, it was cheaper to transfer all of its workload to an IaaS provider. That pricing comparison didn’t include the environment (airconditioning, power, etc) and didn’t factor in the reductions in IaaS rates.

Moving to an IaaS provider could be viewed as moving to a remote datacenter?

Think it through. Think through the cost implications, the security implications & what it would mean for your users?

Is this a trend just like server virtualisation was several years ago? Where at first we try virtualising just a few non-critical servers to “test the waters”, and then push through and virtualize the rest.

Perhaps, IaaS makes sense for your situation.

For more, see Dellium Advisory.

The Commoditisation of the Cloud?   Leave a comment

What are they thinking? And is this what the cloud has come to?

With the recent announcement that the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) is going to add IaaS as a tradeable commodity just as it has space on its exchange for trading other commodities like bananas, oil and copper raises an interesting question.

Is the market for cloud services so mature that there really is little to distinguish between the providers?

And what is IaaS?

To put it into perspective, there are three levels to cloud the computing structure:
1. IaaS: Infastructure as a Service. The virtual machines, the networking and the storage
2. PaaS: Platform as a Service. The database servers, the web servers, etc
3. SaaS: Software as a Service. The applications that we use

And what CME is saying is that the bottom layer is a commodity. That there is no real difference between the offerings from Amazon, Google & Microsoft. That computing power is tradable in the same way that energy is. That price becomes the key determinant of between the market players at this layer & that differentiation at the PaaS & SaaS layers will be the increasing focus of the game in the time ahead.

For more see Dellium Advisory

Posted April 22, 2014 by terop in Architecture, Cloud Computing, ICT Strategy, Innovation