Archive for the ‘Technologies’ Category

What are the benefits from investing in IT?   Leave a comment

A recent study of more than 400 global firms found a significant positive effect on profitability from continued investments in information technology.

They even found that a dollar spent on IT would return more in income that the same dollar spent on either research and development or on marketing!

Now, there are several reasons behind this improvement:

  1. virtuous cycle: where firms learn how to best manage their IT investment due to repeated attempts at “doing IT right”. Although its obvious, but they take advantage of the opportunity to learn from any failures in upgrading, expanding and improving their IT portfolio over a period of time
  2. learning: while closely related to the “virtuous cycle” reason, this explanation relates to an improvement in the use of information. That is, to improve customer satisfaction, to improve loyalty, to open up opportunities with respect to cross-selling, and to reduce marketing and selling costs. All through the better use of information.
  3. shift to a revenue focus: while initial IT investments are usually focused on cost reduction through automation, those firms that are doing better are doing so due to a revenue growth bias of their IT investments.

One nuance that was discovered related to the nature of the industry. For those that rely on human capital (ie, service industries) the effect was greater than for physical capital intensive industries (ie, manufacturing).

As their are tangible benefits from increasing the level of IT investment in your organisation, the important point that must not be lost – is that IT investment improves your use of information.

And improving your use of your information requires some critical thinking and a strategic approach to reap the potential rewards.

 

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

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Posted January 17, 2017 by terop in ICT Strategy, Technologies

Using data for productivity and profit   Leave a comment

When thinking about how to improve your use of data in your organisation there are two important starting points.

First, reflect on the two halves of your business, not-for-profit or government body. One half is the operations side, the other is the value creation side. The focus of your operational side is how to get things done better, cheaper and faster. Improvements on the value creation side are about making what you do that is distinctive, better.

Second, consider Porter’s value chain. That set of activities you perform to turn your inputs into outputs and that set of secondary tasks that support those primary activities.

So, where does your use of data for improving productivity and profit come in?

And how do these two starting points come into the equation.

Consider your operational half using some aspects of the value chain. Do you know how efficient your input transformation process is? How much time lag is there between steps? What is the error rate? What of wastage, breakdowns, and the like? Do you have real-time-data-visibility into this aspect of your organisation?

And consider your value creation side, again using some aspects of the value chain. How good are the buyer-facing links in the chain (ie. sales, service, marketing) at asking questions and collecting data? Are you tracking usage of your goods and/or services for insights into improving your value creation activities?

For once you start collecting this data, you will be able to analyse for trends and patterns (ie. cluster analysis: groups of records, anomaly detection: unusual actions, and rule associations: dependencies) which will result in ideas to improve both your productivity and your profitability.

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

Critical Thinking and IT   Leave a comment

Having been involved in IT for quite a number of years I have been personally across an extensive list of faults, projects and to-do lists. Where the faults have ranged all the way from printing problems on a PC to Active Directory synchronization errors across multiple global domains. Where the projects have included things like office relocations, SAN upgrades and WiFi rollouts. And where to-do lists (IT strategies) have revolved around understanding the needs of multiple stakeholders, the timing of investment decisions and the availability of resources.

And one of the critical abilities that is common to all of these is the ability to think critically.

Not in the sense of being critical about others, but the process of thought and reasoning.

I’ve seen fellow IT professionals simply content to hit refresh buttons and just go for the software re-install.

I’ve seen projects fall over because some first and second order impacts weren’t considered.

And I’ve seen action items added to strategies for no other reason than it just felt right to the sponsor.

Sigh!

So, while the following list can apply to other areas of endeavor that requires fault analysis, project management or strategic approaches, all of these aspects of critical thinking do apply to the full gamut of activities associated with information technology.

Eight principles of critical thinking:

  1. define the purpose
  2. what is the question you are wanting to answer
  3. collect information
  4. consider your inferences
  5. check your assumptions
  6. be clear about the concepts in use
  7. what exactly is your perspective
  8. what are the implications

Regarding purpose. What is the objective of that project? What is it that is really trying to be achieved?

Regarding question. How clear are you about the fault you are trying to fix? What are its symptons and underlying causes?

Regarding information. Do you have all the facts and evidence with respect to that fault? How long has it been going on, under what conditions is it triggered, and so on.

Regarding inferences. Looking at that set of strategic objectives, what interpretations and conclusions can you draw out from that body of proposed work?

Regarding assumptions. What beliefs and biases do you hold, and what beliefs and biases do you believe that others hold?

Regarding assumptions. With respect to that project, what are you taking for granted? With respect to that strategy, what are you assuming about the business?

Regarding concepts. What exactly is that idea you have about the cause of that fault? What is the theory you have about the use of that particular technology for that project?

Regarding perspective. Can you step back and see your point of view dispassionately? In the project management discussions, is your point of view valid?

Regarding implications. When you take that step to fix up the fault, what will happen? What is likely to occur as you execute that strategy?

The ability to think critically is increasingly important. Do you take the time and effort to apply any or all of these eight aspects of thought and reasoning to the tasks at hand?

 
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.

Information Technology and Sustainable Competitive Advantage   Leave a comment

How does information technology help you sustain your competitive advantage?

Is it just a matter of simply just getting the latest smartphone and apps? Or ensuring that your staff have the latest laptops and fastest internet connection? What about the cloud, and moving your data and applications to a completely web-based scenario?

These are important, but there is so much more to consider.

For IT should be there to support the business, not the other way around. IT is a service, a service to help the organisation achieve its goals. And to achieve long term success, those goals should be framed with sustainable competitive advantage in mind. And sustainable competitive advantage is built upon what you do with what you have. Therefore the question is: how well are you using the resources and capabilities at your disposal?

One way of thinking about sustainable competitive advantage is the VRIO model. Where V stands for value, R for rare, I for imitable and O for organisation. So, what do you have that is of value? And does this value enable you to compete in your market? The second layer is rarity. How rare is that resource/capability? Third is imitable. You may have something of value, and it may be somewhat rare, but how easy is it to copy? Perhaps a technology, a process, or the people you have. How easy is it for your competitors to imitate what you do or have? And finally, organisation. How well are you organised to take advantage of what you have?

And this is where information technology comes in. For IT is about information. It’s about the technology you use to support the flow of information throughout your organisation.

Pardon the pun, but IT helps you organise your organisation!

Think about all the different parts of your for-profit or not-for-profit organisation. Think about the operational departments, the sales and marketing people, the product support team, and so on. How well is information flowing between them? How easy is it for the people in each of those sections to get hold of the information they need to do their jobs? Who uses their information outputs, and what do they do with that information.

So we can see that there is a direct link between sustainable competitive advantage and the information technology you employ.

Information Technology helps you to take advantage of the valuable, rare and imitable resources and capabilities at your disposal.
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.

Posted November 2, 2015 by terop in Futures, ICT Strategy, Innovation, Technologies

What is the best way to think about IT investment decisions?   Leave a comment

IT purchase decisions. Choices about what information technology to invest in.

Often times its just a senior manager saying “I think we should do this”. Then, on the back of that a whole process follows. Justifications for the decision. Quotes and vendor discussions. Perhaps even chaos.

And both from my research, from experience, and from talking with others – this is how the majority of choices about what information technology to use are made. An ad-hoc approach. An approach that really is not grounded in any metrics, and science, any understanding of what really is required for the host organisation.

For, when its brought back to basics – information technology is there to increase the value of the firm.

Any investment in IT should be to either improve:

  • the maturity of the business systems
  • the efficiency of information flow
  • the timeliness of market information
  • the processes of value creation
  • the understanding of customer behavior

So, rather than think “what needs to be upgraded”, put this thought first “from the perspective of the organisation, what should be done?”

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

Posted October 8, 2014 by terop in Business Strategy, ICT Strategy, Technologies

Using IT for Competitive Advantage   Leave a comment

They key question is what is your organisation’s core competency? And from that, are you using IT to improve that core competency?

There is a growing body of knowledge that lends weight to the argument that investment in the right mix of information systems improves economic performance. Specifically, getting this portfolio right has the following results:

  • improvement in the bargaining power with suppliers and customers
  • reduction in operating costs
  • lowering of processing costs
  • enhancing product differentiation
  • increasing barriers to entry

But, the focus of those making decisions should not be solely on the current tense. Benefits do flow on into the future.

Necessarily, these IT investment decisions are made with respect to the business vision. Is the vision to be a low cost producer? Is it to be an exporter of quality goods? Is it to be highly responsive to customer requirements? Are you seen as an innovative and cutting edge?

The answers to these questions will lead to the decisions that need to be made regarding IT spend. That is, how will IT be best used for your competitive advantage. For example:

  1. do your portfolio of information systems improve the efficiency of information flow?
  2. are you capturing how well you know your customers?
  3. are you using this captured customer information to improve your product offering (lower cost or differentiation)?
  4. do you know the history of all of your input costs, and do you analyse their trends?
  5. what is your attitude toward innovation, is information technology assisting in innovation management?

Information Technology can have such a positive influence on your organisation. Are you taking advantage of all that is on offer?

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

Posted August 15, 2014 by terop in ICT Strategy, Innovation, Technologies

Technology Hype or Trend?   Leave a comment

In the world of technology there are many fascinating developments. Think about Google Glass, 3D printing, driverless cars and graphene.

But what causes these developments to move out of hype and inflated expectations into something disruptive. What causes a potential disruption to become an actual disruption?

Think about cloud computing. Several years ago it was pie in the sky. That there was the possibility that enterprises could offload all of their computing infrastructure to a third party. That organisations of all sizes could stick to their knitting and not worry about their IT.

And what happened? Delivery costs came down, governance questions were answered satisfactorily, provider choice blossomed. To the point that that hype has become a trend to the point that the technology is becoming embedded into how organizations run their IT.

Now, think about Bitcoin. About crypto-currency. Its all the hype now. There’s some inflated expectations that it will replace our standard commercial and retail transactions. That in the wake of recent financial matters that this industry is ripe for disruption.

So, what will happen? Well, the stages are:

  1. the framing of technology and its uses will iteratively improve over time
  2. some key people, institutions and organisations will take the lead and become a change agent with this technology
  3. issues around how the technology will be used in the mainstream will be resolved as it becomes more widespread

Thus, with respect to Bitcoin, watch to see if there are some key backers of the technology. It’ll tell you that this financial instrument is headed to mainstream.

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

Posted July 22, 2014 by terop in Futures, ICT Strategy, Innovation, Technologies