Well, I made in to 1000 Blog Viewings this week – on Tuesday actually, which is rather encouraging. A couple of comments are posted about business and IT alignment and I will spend more time on this subject soon but here’s some more thoughts on the subject:
A New Age of Information
We are now moving into a new age, an age of information and two things should be very, very clear:
- Any company today and in the future that doesn’t recognise IT as an integral part of every facet of its business is going to be at a grave disadvantage.
- Any company today and in the future that cannot leverage Information Technology advances quickly and effectively will also be at a grave disadvantage.
It’s probably fair to say that using computers for operational purposes is a done deal today, we just know how to do it. It will obviously carry on and on but the general principles behind it as a science are well understood. It’s the creation of new informational systems that we are discussing in this blog. There are big differences between the two:
- Operational systems create data, Informational systems use data
- Operational systems have defined inputs, processes and outputs, informational systems tend to be very flexible and not predefined or procedural.
- Operational systems are application based, informational systems lend themselves well to a tools approach
- Operational systems are finite in terms of scope, informational systems know no boundaries
- Operational systems are defined by business but built by IT, informational systems are created jointly between business and IT
- Operational systems use data as a commodity, informational systems treasure data as the main ingredient
- Operational systems are often as not deployed to save money, informational systems are best used to make more money
Understanding New Requirements
The long and short of it is that to be successful in turning data into information demands four things:
- That you have access to data of the right quality
- That you understand how to turn that data into useful information
- That you have the will and imagination to do so
- That you have someone who will take charge and make it happen
In our world of operational system it is quite easy for the ‘business’ people to decide as an example, how they want to bill their customer base and then to simply off-load the task to the IT organisation of building a computerised system to do so. However, this way of working simply does not work in the building of informational systems and one of the reasons that informational systems are still in their infancy is that it demands organisational ‘reform’, something that is always resisted.
No longer can the business say what they want and simply demand it from IT because most of the time they simply don’t know what they want and even if they do, they have no way to formulate their request in a way that IT people will understand. Imaging the CEO has a requirement to know the ‘profitability of his best customers’ – a perfectly reasonable requirement and something very, very few CEOs know today. Just how would IT go about the task, what would be the procedure, where would the data come from and what does that actual request even mean? What are ‘best’ customers and how do you calculate ‘profitability’?