Making !T Work

Data → Information → Knowledge → Wisdom

This pandemic has forced many organizations to rethink their business resiliency plans.   Many of us realized our approach was not equal to the challenge.  

As someone who has been in the game too long to admit how long, I can assure you the rules of proper business resilience planning has NOT changed.   The demands on the plan have clearly changed but not the need to have and maintain a plan.   The traditional method of write it once, put it on a shelf and check it once a year are long gone.   Today to meet the demands of the issues facing your business the plan must be fluid and more importantly actionable.

Since my early forays into Business Intelligence and decision making tools I have been frustrated as it relates to cost and how they missed the point on conveying the story in the language of the user.

In the end leaders need to make decisions quickly and effectively.   Most tools since the beginning have busied the screen with graphs and numbers providing lots  of content with little context.   Only after extended exposure to a set of dashboards can a decision maker start to makes sense of context to provide context.   This takes a great deal of time and can be an exercise in mental gymnastics

The examples of this are everywhere, from our cars to our boardrooms to our control rooms.   Having said this, I have been obsessed with solving this paradox for decades with very little success till now.  

Like most things I am faced with, I like to distill the reality into as few workable blocks as the possible.   Some people may challenge me on trying to over simplify the complex, however, I take the approach that complexity can be distilled into many simple elements.   By doing so, the solution can be easier to manage.   It also makes it much simpler to communicate to all the stakeholders.   Engineering diagrams or architecture documents are a must for many team members but not necessarily for all the stakeholders.

Recently, I have been witness to many conversations regarding the processing, analysing and dash boarding of what is being call real time data.  I even struggle with that term for it is really near time operational data.   That is not relevant for this discussion.   What is relevant for this discussion is how do you design, build, test and implement for a complex data stream while at the same time present it graphically?

This is the crux of this simple discussion.   Before you create your first draft of the schema or the architecture you must put into perspective this part of the problem you are being asked to solve.   You must deal with the three “V”s of data which are volume, velocity, and variety.

Since the beginning of time, leaders have had to process information to make informed decisions. Today we submerge valuable information in a sea of data, moving at the speed of light across mass storage arrays that span the world. The trick for a leader in today’s world is to separate the noise from the signal. Just as submarine sonar operators listen to all the sounds in the spectrum to discover the sound of an enemy submarine, a leader must hone their ability to hear the value in the wash of noise surrounding enterprises today. Their ability to group all the data into useful information is the key to their long-term success.

To most people a portal is a website or, to the more daring, a website on steroids. This view is short-sighted and lacks an overall holistic vision, because a website is but one element of a portal. Even if its interface is a website, the portal itself is not. The portal is the environment created by the natural evolution of distributed information, dissemination, data aggregation and data management. 

The Solution Life Cycle demonstrates the influence and accountability for the opportunity, project and production methodologies as described in previous papers. It is important to note that the influence area is real and should be addressed as an influence and not necessarily permission. By this I mean, it is important to inform the influencing areas and to get their input, however, not all influencers are decision makers. The seasoned Information Technology professional will work the organization to deliver the overall goals and to get influencer buy in.

This paper will focus on the processes required to manage opportunities that come to or from the Information Technology (IT) group. Opportunity Management moves you away from the "order taker" role and toward the "trusted advisor" role. This move is becoming manifest with organizations challenging their technical teams to deliver business value, not just cost containment. In this scenario, IT doesn't drive the car – it supplies the car. IT is a service-enabler, and Opportunity Management supports the concept of IT being a service-enabler for the business rather than just being a cost center. A cost containment attitude equates to a "no can do" shop mentality, which is not good for your team and limits your ability to get funding for your much needed projects.

The Priority Matrix is both a formal and informal process for the Information Technology professionals to ensure that the large list of projects is properly dealt with. All too often groups get transfixed by the projects they want to work on or they just focus on the last one in the door. Either of these conditions can be deadly for the overall effectiveness of your team.

In my storied and eventful career I have been both the savior and the victim of Business Intelligence. The battle has raged for years and the real victims are the customers who are trying to figure it out. Over time and after many scotch on the rocks I started to piece the pieces together.

The people side of change. There is the formal change management process for Information Technology and this discussion is not it. I will attempt to give my insight into change. Before you can speak of the formal Information Technology elements of change management you need to address the real people side of change.

As Technology professionals we are constantly in a state of flux and change or at the least the good ones are. If you are one of the moss backs, this post is NOT for you. I would be considered a grey back. I have aged and have learned from my scars. I am still young enough to pursue and wise enough to know what will hurt and what will not. I am driven by doing the right thing and not always being right. Yes there is a difference.

Making !T Work   

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