Welcome to our blog, the digital brainyard to fine tune "Digital Master," innovate leadership, and reimagine the future of IT.

The magic “I” of CIO sparks many imaginations: Chief information officer, chief infrastructure officer , Chief Integration Officer, chief International officer, Chief Inspiration Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Influence Office etc. The future of CIO is entrepreneur driven, situation oriented, value-added,she or he will take many paradoxical roles: both as business strategist and technology visionary,talent master and effective communicator,savvy business enabler and relentless cost cutter, and transform the business into "Digital Master"!

The future of CIO is digital strategist, global thought leader, and talent master: leading IT to enlighten the customers; enable business success via influence.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Business vs. IT the battle rages on --Where do you stand?

More transparency in the IT value proposition to the business plus more engagement partnership is needed with the business.

There’re quite a few classic business vs. IT debates last decade long: Does IT still Matter? What will happen to CIO role? 'Business vs IT': where do you stand for? Is the IT/business silo-ing a chronic problem in many organizations? Or have enterprises moved in the right direction, with a few hangers-backs? Yes, the battle rages on, also because 'we' continue to perpetuate the discussion. The positive side is: such debates may help business & IT do more reflection via pondering deeper: 

1.    Why are these Decade-long Debates still on?

 We perpetuate the "two solitudes" of IT and the business when we use the very term "IT and the business", and even more so when we use the term vs., or, of course, that old chestnut "aligning IT with the business." IT is embedded in almost everything we do today and will become increasingly so.

  • Lack of cohesive business strategy that encompasses IT in a single business strategic statement: Too often business strategy and IT strategy are developed mutually exclusive of each other. That is coupled with a pendulum swing back toward solution vendors selling to the business areas directly and by-passing IT, which is threatened to make the situation worse.
  •  It takes exceptionally strong and visionary leadership to see these forces working against the better path of the business as a whole and work together to bring about that significant change in behavior. To harmonize business/IT relationship, all CXOs need play as true business leaders, not as functional manager, that said, share the reward and shame together, if IT fails, it's also business's failure, same, if business is too stifle or slow, IT need take fair share of responsibility, with such mindset shift, "blame game" may be replaced by solution focus.      
  • The Silo Thinking & Culture Thing: many organizations are still running at the industrial speed -with hierarchical decision-making scenario, business is a sum of pieces, not a holistic whole, functional silos compete for resources, rather than work collaboratively & seamlessly to optimize business. There is also a sense of great comfort in 'pointing the finger' at someone else. It is very unsettling to have the arm loop back around and be pointing at yourself. Of course as leaders, we are or should be all in, for collectively being accountable for both successes and failures in business as a whole. 

2.    He Said, She Said

  • He Said: Why Business Doesn't Look To IT For Innovation?       
Firstly, IT has spent the last twenty years creating rules designed to limit what users can do in the name of Security. Thus, it has become perceived as a techno-legalistic bureaucracy. Secondly, when IT is asked to add a feature or new system, the engineers go overboard by adding every bell and whistle in the hopes of impressing users with their innovative skills. This turns something simple into a mesmerizing array of features that the average user will never use and acts only to create confusion and consternation. 

That said: What IT and users define as "innovation" are two entirely different things. To the IT department, it means pushing the limits of technology, whereas to the users it means making their jobs and lives simpler. The business is not interested in the upgrade of servers and desktops or virtualization and cloud computing. The business requires that IT provide solutions to real-life business problems. This can only be achieved by constant engagement and both sides seeing the other as a "partner" rather than an adversary.

IT too often doesn't take the needs of the business into account. How many times has IT develop some great app and rolled it out only to have it fall short? That is because IT so often doesn't listen. You can have the coolest toys and be the smartest guys in the room,  but if you are not adding value, making it easier for your business to do business then what’s the point.

Communication Matters: IT contribution to business value does not come from the technology itself, but from the change that IT both shapes and enables. CIOs and other IT leaders who fail to explain this to organizational leadership, and/or continue to extol the virtues of the technology itself merely perpetuate the problem and are putting their very survival at risk. There are too much tech talk and not enough business talk coupled with a lack of transparency on a financial basis which only fans the flames between the groups as IT has always been seen as a cost center and a rather expenses one at that. Also, don't wield compliance or technology as a weapon.

  • She Said: Business has “Bias” View on IT: 
On the business side: you have an organization that often fails to own its part of the relationship in partnering with IT.  Business leaders who see IT simply as a technology issue. Too often IT sees "business professionals" wanting to go back to the segmented organization and define Technology as something outside of the business as a separate entity. Truthfully,  there is no room for such individuals in the modern organization, and that is the mindset cause such constant battle.

The battle is really much large than IT and the business: It involves a similar (non-value added) perspective of all overhead functions including accounting, finance, HR, IT, customer service, etc. Without a direct tie to the P&L, all general and administrative functions are the object of scorn by the business. They siphon off money that could be used for the 'real' business. We are part of the inanimate object called IT that inflicts pain on them and makes their lives less productive.

Invite the CIO to Big Table: The CIO has the same responsibility for creating value across the business as the COO, CFO, CXO, etc. Invite the CIO to the weekly operations meeting and sincerely partner with IT, keep in mind on business risk matters, comply with the burdensome standards security advocate.

3.    The Business Value of IT

The more salient points of the "ongoing debate," the irony is there should be no debate. What is the real business value of IT? IT leaders may still need to ponder more:  

  • IT must prove itself to be a business partner. They must show that they are as interested in the bottom line as the sales or operations. Many IT departments need to reach out to business leaders and find ways to enable and work together. Technology should be an enabler, not an end in and of itself. Business is at odds with IT when they feel that IT isn't solving problems. In many cases, IT hinders business through restrictions and so forth.
  • IT leaders need be accountable to "organize IT financial, technical, and human resources around business value," IT is also responsible for ensuring that the non-IT business leaders understand the people, process, organizational and cultural changes that will be required, and for which they must be accountable, if they are to create and sustain value from their "IT investments" - more accurately, investments in IT-enabled change, such that they make investment decisions balancing attractiveness and achievability, and manage the required business changes.
  • Oversight Business Strategy: The role of IT is to enable the business by ensuring that there is a strong and clear relationship between IT investment decisions and the organization’s overall strategies, goals, and objectives. To achieve this, IT leaders must ensure that IT funding and solutions align with business strategies; they must organize IT financial, technical, and human resources around business value; and they must provide oversight of IT-related activities to manage IT-related risks.
  • IT departments need to innovate towards simplicity and discover new secure ways to allow users to do the things that have not been allowed in the past. Rules and complexity stifle user innovation and hold the enterprise back like a master holding firm to his dog's leash. IT/business intend to make villains of the competing interests and forget the underlying motives are often very good. Over engineering can easily happen when development is done in a vacuum.
  • Ultimately, More transparency in the IT value proposition to the business plus more engagement in partnership is needed with the business. IT should be creating value across organizational lines and not silo-ed as in years gone by. The cloud further complicates the relationship as now IT isn't the only delivery mechanism in town but proceed with caution as everything cloud isn't really the cloud.
  • CIO’s main focuses in running IT as the business:
a)     Customer Relationship Management: no matter it's executive peer relationship or business partner/user relationship, communication is key, deeply understand each other's world, and manage IT/business with empathy.

b)     IT Project/Program/Portfolio Management: IT investment/project delivery will also directly decide how effective IT is, always remember software's golden rule: work closely with customers to understand what they truly need, prioritize and optimize projects accordingly.

c) Vendor/Sourcing Management: There are more sourcing choices and quality vendors for CIOs to select now, but also bring up "complexity", CIOs need to evaluate solution more objectively, think effectiveness/efficiency on one side, and value/cost/agility/innovation /flexibility on the other side.

d) Talent Management: due to the changing nature of technology, talent management is also critical for CIO and IT leaders, think talent strategy as human capital investment, for business's long-term growth, rather than just fill out a position, and talent perspective will also shape business/IT culture, which is the most influential factor for IT/business performance.

Metaphorically, business vs. IT battle is just like our left-hand battle with the right hand to see which one is stronger, or the left brain and right brain compete to see which part is smarter. The beauty is in harmony, and they are all part of the body, only through coordination or corporation, the full business potential can be unleashed. To both business & IT: Make yourself and them a part of the solution, and make yourself and them as big WE-to stop arguing, and start partnering. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Data Quality: Big Issue for Big Data

As old saying, every journey comes through first step, for Big Data or any BI project, Data Quality Management is crucial for project’s success. Industry analytics researches show that intuition trumps analytics among many business professionals. What are the main reasons? Lack of confidence in the data is top one.

After walking through 5W+1H Big Data Navigation, pondering to decode Big Data via Five Big Senses or use the right tool, and Perceive Big Data picture, here, we go back to basic ingredient—Data, and top concerns in data analytics: Data Quality.

1.    Data Quality is not for “A Single Version of Truth”

 43 percent of data from external sources comes from social networks, while audio makes up 38 percent, and photo or video comprises 43 percent. Big Data has characteristics of 3V+1C (Volume, Velocity, Variety, and Complexity).

Data expert also provides a better definition of data quality as “the extent to which the data actually represents what it purports to represent.” As Data Quality is multiple dimensional concept:

  • Objective Data Quality Dimensions: Integrity, Accuracy, Validity, Completeness, Consistency, Existence,

  • Subjective Data Quality Dimensions: Understandability, objectivity, timeliness, relevance, interpretability, trust

Therefore, the goal of data quality management is not about pursuit of “a single version of truth”, but how do we enumerate, rationalize and perceive all different versions of truth, and the diagnosis & analysis effort need focus on specific problems of relationship between data & what it represents, and what kind of business puzzles can be untangled via such data inter-relationship.   

2.    Big Data Does Not Need be “Perfect”

There’s no “perfect” data in Big Data world, the accuracy and compromise will continue to coexist across the span of information management. And  Big Data Quality efforts need to be defined more as profiling and standards versus cleansing. This is better aligned to how big data is managed and processed.

 “Good enough” data can be more useful than perfect data, as long as the information is good enough for the recipient to make sound business decisions or solving specific business problems via there best angles, because it takes longer to make the data more accurate, and such time delay may actually diminishes its value rather than improving it.  

Think about data quality in the context of supporting preprocessing with Hadoop and MapR through profiling and standards, not cleansing. Or the value of shining a social light on data quality - the value of using collaborative tools like social media to crowd-source data quality improvements. 

3.    Embed Data Quality Management into Big Data Deployment

When creating a data quality strategy, there are six factors, or aspects, of an organization’s operations that need be considered. The six factors are:

  • Storage: where the data resides
  • Context: the type of data being profiled and the purposes for which it is used
  • Data flow: how the data accesses and flows through the organization
  • Workflow: how work activities interact with data and use the data
  • Stewardship: people responsible for managing the data
  • Continuous monitoring: processes for regularly validating the data

Because flawed data management & information production processes introduce risks preventing the successful achievement of critical business goals. However, these flaws are mitigated through data quality management and control: controlling the quality of the information production process from beginning to end to ensure that any imperfections are identified early, prioritized, and remediated before negative impacts can be incurred.

Close-Looped Data Quality Management cycle:
Identity suspected hot spots àestablish quality metrics àprofile & measureàexpose metrics via reports and dashboardàstewards review metricsàdesign data quality controlàembed controls in data flow for BI-->Monitor and refocus data quality analysis.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Without surprise, most industry experts think PM and CM are complimentary with each other.

Statistically, both project management and change management effort have 70%+ of failure rate, it also spurs many provocative debates on how to manage projects more smoothly, such as: How do you view the disciplines of change management and project management? Complimentary, Redundant, or Conflicting? Should Project Management and Change Management Go Hand in Hand?

  1. Project Management (PM) & Change Management (CM) are Two Sides of Coin

 Without surprise, most industry experts think PM and CM are complimentary with each other; PM without CM, is one of the key reasons why so many projects have failed and why so many organizations have not embraced project management in their culture and operations. The lack of CM, has brought skepticism to organizations as business rarely be able to quantity the benefits originally stated in the Business Case – which is where Change Management comes in. This is not the only reason though; there are a few more as important such as leadership, strategy., etc. 

  • CM means a lot of things: Change Management is the discipline of assessing for, planning, and mitigating risk. If you mean Change/Release/Validation processes, then they would seem to be a natural extension of a project; if you mean Human and Organizational Change Management, then, that too would seem to be a natural result of every project - the point of all projects and all system is change;           
  • PM & CM are Two Sides of Coin: A properly designed and implemented CM & PM system are a "must have"; Change management and project management are two sides of the same coin. Either one without the other, results in an incomplete transaction. Change Management is one of many components of a project, and they go hand-in-hand. Projects follow change management processes and adhere to the policies in order to implement required design, new, and/or changing implementations. 
  • CM and PM are complimentary Ying & Yang. The interaction of these two objects causes everything to happen in any project environment. Furthermore, the size of the organization will influence the level of debate. In large enterprises, change management has a purpose in assuring that operation of the business is not disrupted by a single change, or a few changes. Project Management is a plan to make changes; and to destabilize the current situation. In a large enterprise,  PM should (must) account for operational readiness, yet there are so many changes, that CM is required to funnel and manage a large number of changes to the operation. In a small business and many medium size businesses, there are fewer operational elements, systems, or players, so that PM and CM tend to blend together into project management.
  • CM is Subset of PM, or PM is Subset of CM?  Many PMs don't consider CM as part of PM, but without a doubt if you neglect Change Management you are at risk at having a failed project, especially if it affects users. On the other hand, some think PM is a discipline within Change Management, other components include Stakeholder Management and Communications Management. So PM is a subset of CM.
  • People are Key in CM: Change management that addresses the 'people change' aspects of a project is more important than ANY 'really cool' technology deployment.
  • Best Practice: Both CM & PM should work complementary for each project, a change from the as-is situation will move to a "to-be" situation. In practice, you can map "Kotter" (8-step Change) with Project Management. Big projects typically fail because "change" is not taken seriously. Change management practices are supportive of project management. They aid in control of "feature creep" and help to maintain scope and deliverable stability across the project lifecycle.
  • Some Argument: Change Management can exist without Project Management, but Project Management cannot exist without Change Management. Well, if we think Project Management is beyond managing IT or software project only, treat Change Management itself as project, such as culture change, it may also need the set of change principles to sustain the changes.  

  1. Change Management is the necessary pre- and post-requisite to Project Management.

 Change Management is the necessary pre- and post-requisite to Project Management. If a project is not changing something, then why do it?

  • PM should integrate with CM into the project planning. Make sure the business understands this, and that it is built into each of the plans and estimates. If it needs to be modified, then manage it under Risk Management. Changes in scope are inevitable on any project. In dealing with them effectively, Change management and Project management go hand in hand.
  • Change managers must select an appropriate project management process. At least they need two stages, plan and implement; Change management is the most important part of the overall project. This may be the physical, technical and is always the psychological/cultural changes that are required when any change is made in a business of those who will be at all affected from the results of the project. . 
  • Complimentary/intricately linked. The change management process should initiate project management and complete with the scheduling change. A robust change/project management process will ensure proper design, acceptance criteria etc., 
  • Ensure your projects don’t cannibalize testing, user training and learning: mandate comprehensive testing, extremely well resourced, continuously available training and learning, then the change will happen.
  • Consistency A well designed CM & PM system will ensure consistency in the use of established processes, ensure compliance with agreed policies and enable all reporting required for management of KPIs, SLAs and other audit related issues. 
  • From Good Project Manager to Great Influencer: No matter how well the project manager managed the project, came in under budget or time, she/he may not have achieved the cultural change required to adopt any changes in process or operation that the project was all about implementing. She/he may in fact be a great manager of a project team, but not a good influencer of people to embrace change after the project is implemented.

  1. Change management is core discipline and strategic Policy in Project Management

  • Project Leadership Discipline: Leadership must work hand-in-glove with PM throughout the project life cycle to ensure all the necessary elements of success are in place; and intervene if/when they are not, it's because creating and sustaining change is a leadership responsibility requiring strong governance  /sponsorship on both the IT and business side; PMs define & implement the mechanics of the change while Leadership must create the need/culture for change (Executive support, alignment, incentives, understanding, communication, policies & procedures, etc.) which ensure the success of the project. 
  • Change management is one of the core disciplines which helps ensure an IT project is "ready" to go live in production. A mature project readiness review process will include several system management control points. However, change Management is often overlooked and done poorly. An hour or two of training and then someone "checks off" change management. Successful CM requires high level consulting and people skills and every situation is different. PM has some specific disciplines. But do not confuse Project Tracking and resource management with true PM.
  • CM is a strategic policy, PM is tactical for project managers: Project Management gets you from A to B. Change Management ensures that while getting to B the business does not experience negative impact.
  • CM is everyone's responsibility. Change management is often done poorly, and left to what would be better-described as a training team., and should never be delegated to "B team" players who spend their time creating documents rather than talking to stakeholders which also requires a lot of skills to be effectives.
  • CM as Discipline to Continuous Improvement: Change management is one of many disciplines needed to deliver business transformation, or business improvement, or a program/project. Change Management could happen in an operational setting where the CM task becomes the project. Project management includes an embedded CM component. CM + PM ++ = Continuous Improvement
  • CM as Communication Guideline: Project management is focused on internal/project resources and change management is focused on stakeholders external to the project team. Software Projects are done to automate processes among other reasons, the project needs change management to ensure completion within time and budget. Once developed, the change has to be effectively communicated within the organization and that’s the real role for change management. Many times, change management is the most important, least cared field, since it is seen as a soft discipline in a world of engineers.
  • CM like GPS: Act in current operations or processes, introduction of more progressive ways of achieving the same result, normally for increased efficiency or added value. All these need a vehicle to arrive at the desired point. CM like GPS, smoothes the way, provides the route to understanding, acceptance and adoption..
 Therefore, the very nature of project management must incorporate change management elements. Change management similarly must consider project management principles in its implementation

Global Leadership

 “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”                          ― Nelson Mandela

In earlier Oct, Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old Pakistan teenager was shot in the head while riding in a van on her way home from school, because she advocats education right for children, especially girls, the world was pray for her,  and she does present life resilience to recover well; on July 18th this year, Nelson Mandela celebrated his 94th birthday in South Africa, the deeply loved statesman who helped bring freedom to South Africa; What’s in common between an innocent teen age girl and a respected elder man?  It’s their courage and their strong will to pursue freedom, equality and higher level of happiness.

From one generation to the other, people all over the world, continue to fight for human progress, most of us may take some basic civic right and education for granted, but we are all Malala in some circumstances, as we all fight for our fair shot opportunities in life, jump out of the hidden bias boxes, or breakthrough multi-layer career ceilings,  and we all need to think differently, but work more harmonized to push the human world forward.

Malala becomes the symbol for education right, as many girls or boys may still take risk or lose opportunity to go to school, what does such education right mean for humanity?

  • Enlighten Human Nature: The positive education enlighten human nature, brighten up society, education ignite one’s passion to understand world better, dig through the truth, step out of old tradition & culture, and re-imagine life and humanity;

  • Envision Multi-dimensional World: Education helps human not only see, but perceive; not only observe via your own eyes, but see the world via historical lens, biological lens, geographical lens, philosophical lens,  cultural lens or scientific lens; Education allows you to see beyond present, and walk through the future.

  • Enrich Human Life: Without education, one can still speak, but without voice; one can still see, but without perception, one can still live, but without too may choices; Education can make life more enriched, colorful and fluid.

  • Embrace a Connected World: via proper education, people cross-cultural and cross-geographical boundary can share universal wisdom, understand each other with empathy, embrace a hyper-connected world via better communicating and open mindset, as at today’s digital world, information and knowledge may just be a click away.

This is meaning of Malala, this is the meaning of Mandela speech “the world needs to be turn around, for the children, that’s transformation from “born free” to “educated free” to pursue freedom of choice; and from “rainbow nation” to “rainbow world” in pursuit of high level of happiness. We are all Malala, and we are inspired by Malala.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tough Choice for IT: Change the Name, or Reboot Mindset

Changing a name rarely changes an organization or how it is perceived by its customers. IT needs to both reboot mindset and retool management discipline.

IT is being treated as a cost-to-be-controlled for years -It may be reasonable because many IT organizations are seen as IT help desk to keep light on, or simply cannot give a fair accounting of where the money is going in terms of business capability or, more importantly, directly identifying the business value -- which leads to an inability for IT to its value to the lines-of-business. However, with business across sectors moving from industry speed to digital speed, IT becomes so pervasive and critical, information is the lifeblood of the organization, and IT is business’s “digital brain”; many companies started with marketing driven, then finance driven, consumer driven, lately become IT driven...Can IT really be a game changer to drive business growth?Should the name then reflect the IT contributions and have people aware of the criticality of its value?

1. Re-brand IT

Does name change make IT transformation more radical? it’s situational driven.  Some argue branding is very important because it links to funding and Senior leadership buy-in. With regards to what to rename the current ‘IT Department’ and why, as far as how to re-brand IT, determining a brand identity begins with a couple of steps: 
1). What is the vision for your company?
2). What is the mission of the IT Department? How does the IT Department see itself contributing to the company’s mission?
3). What are the products and services that are offered by the IT Department?
4). What value do these products and services bring to the company? What would happen if the IT Department did not provide these services?
5). Who is the target market for these products and services? Given a choice, why would the employees want to utilize the IT Department?
6). Based on the above steps, sum up the characteristics of the IT Department and understand the relationship between the IT Department and its target market. 

Interestingly, at one of online brainstorm forums, some suggested IT change to Information Service Department; and others think Business Technology Division more fit for IT mission. Well, put emphasis on “I” or “T” only seems just tell the half of IT story: information without technology is outdated bits & bytes, and technology without information is old nuts and bolt. Overall, IT is not necessarily so bad name, it is well-articulate what it is doing: information + technology, information is the lifeblood of the modern enterprise, and technology is a strong pillar to run any business; though modern IT needs to be perceived more brightly.  If IT does need some changes in name, focus on these keywords:

  • I: Information/Insight/Integration/Innovation: because information is lifeblood and foundation of any business today.
  • T -Transformation: If traditional IT often limits our imagination, then the transformation is a mission for IT to improve business/customer intimacy and embrace digitalization. 
  • S - Strategy/Solution/Security: IT needs to become business's strategic partner via strategic sourcing, investment, and communication. IT should go beyond service, to provide a business solution, and security is always the bottom line to any business.
  • V -Value business value: It is the key for IT to focus on, without delivering business value, IT is still cost center. 
It should also a good practice to select meaningful names to the divisions under IT organization, in order to consolidate and integrate IT teams to adapt to business changes and enforce management discipline, such as: put the Database Administration (DBA), the Data Administration (DA), and the Business Intelligence (BI) teams under a new subdivision, named “Information Management” to streamline information management process. Or, put “B” before IT--Business Information Technology Department well leverage the common business understanding and good reputation IT try to convey, and well bridge the past and future of IT help to unify the value proposition both business & IT agree on.

2. Reboot IT Mindset

 Change name is easier part, only scratch the surface, the hard part is to reboot IT mindset:

  • Communication: One of the major sources of the divide that segregates business and IT is the communications dialog - the lexicon used to communicate between people. One of the many paths to attempt to close this chasm and get IT closer to the business, is the words, titles, names, concept descriptions used, that indicate that IT is NOT just a service provider but is attempting to become that business partner, then a trusted advisor and business peer, and maybe even a trusted business leader, transcending their functional IT silo
  • Leadership: It is not something that is done by the tired cliché of leading by example, but in creating that compelling vision, the unique value, that ability to enable others to succeed, that gets you to the top, not on the backs of others, but carried on their shoulders in triumph. What can you do to make your business counterparts into heroes? It is not about making IT look good, but in making the business players be everything possible with your help. 
  • Strategic Partner: IT customers (the business units) are looking for strategic business partners that have a bird-eye view of all the business processes due to the system and landscape knowledge IT have maintained over the years; or with good operational knowledge of the entire business combined with advanced systems and architectural knowledge. The more intimate IT can be with the business needs, the faster IT can move up the ladder to a business partner, then business peer, and maybe even a business leader. 
  • Value: IT can be just a service organization, provide commodity services (and be outsourced to a cheaper provider), or they can identify where they can add extreme value to an organization, to the business, and to overall business leadership. So IT's DNA may well transform to IV--Information Value.  

3. Retool IT Management

After rebooting mindset, the next step is to retool IT management, the practices include: reformulate principles, develop strategy, restructure the organization and present a new value proposition.

  • Modeling Powerful Collaboration: The most effective CIOs are moving in the direction of taking responsibility to have an investment in technology really pay off by modeling powerful collaboration in their own organization and also inspiring and teaching their business colleagues to collaborate. Get IT people invited to staff meetings in every organization. Create a liaison/business partners group with technical people that can understand business. Meet the business leaders frequently - find out what they need; share the unique insights as to what IT capabilities can provide; work out if it makes financial sense, balancing the risk/reward tradeoffs. 
  • Information Life Cycle Management: at many organizations, IT does not own information, but IT is a steward to manage information holistically, from data storage, data integrity, data security/governance/risk management, data insight/foresight. Without streamlining data management, siloed data is a barrier to making the right decision or optimizing business process, as data-based business analysis is the key factor to differentiate leaders from laggards.
  • Agility: Agile is no longer just about the software development methodology, it's philosophy to run IT via iterative communication & cross-functional collaboration, shorter cycle, and faster delivery.., etc. via advanced talent, process, and technology. 
  • Measure IT Value: IT departments need to move beyond the standard SLA's and KPIs and start measuring the ROI for the business value they deliver as innovators. It is the turning point to turning the brand around. Running IT like a business, If you were going to invest money in the market, would you do it without any measurement or report of return? No,  you wouldn't.
Therefore, changing a name rarely changes an organization or how it is perceived by its customers. IT needs to both reboot mindset and retool management discipline, more proactively anticipate business value delivery through knowledge of information technology, also become business’s strategic partner. IT may not necessarily transform data center into an art center, but IT should deliver the fresh image: not a "NO" department, but a "YES" department; not a laggard, but a leader, not always stick to the old box, but shape some innovative new box. That’s a radical IT rebranding, and IT is still full of imagination.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

CIO & CFO as Business Peers: Talk Beyond “Lean & Mean”

IT need be seen as a key contributor to corporate strategy.

If modern CIO & CEO have many leadership characteristics in common, and CIO & CMO are like-minded ‘soul mates”, then CIO & CFO can be business peers with complementary viewpoints and skill sets.

A joint survey by Gartner and the Financial Executives Research Foundation found that 42% of IT organizations report directly to the CFO. The same survey pointed out that finance chiefs alone authorize 26% of all IT investments, while chief information officers approve only 5%. This makes sense: in tough economic times, finance inevitably asserts itself and casts a gimlet eye on spending.

The CFO and CIO are well-positioned to work together at generating business value from enterprise IT investments. However, this performance is often not achieved because of poor perceptions of IT, a parochial CFO or CIO perspective, or simply a failure to invest in the CFO-CIO relationship," said John Van Decker, research vice president at Gartner.

According to the other study "A New Role for New Times," which includes survey responses from hundreds of CFOs around the world, financial executives really do see value in technology. And they're firm believers that the future will rely heavily upon technology. At the same time, they're frustrated with "outdated" IT solutions that don't live up to their expectations. The paradox is: they're the same folks who are probably telling you to curtail spending.

1.    See Beyond “Bean Counter” or “Tool Guy”, to Learn Each Other’s World

 How many CFOs view IT as a necessary evil and how many view it as a strategic enabler? Most of business executives including CFO view CIO as tool guy/gal, from an earlier consulting and media firm’s survey, Only 33% of CIOs believe they’re seen as a “trusted partner or business peer,” and even fewer (31%) see themselves viewed as a “valued service provider.” Only 11% think IT is providing competitive differentiation 

IT is being treated as a cost-to-be-controlled for years - and not just the CFO-view, but the business' perception as well (after all, the CFOs view of IT is very likely an extension or reflection of the business' view of IT). It may be reasonable because many IT organizations simply cannot give a fair accounting of where the money is going in terms of business capability or, more importantly, directly identifying the business value -- which leads to an inability for IT to its value to the lines-of-business. Therefore, CIOs have been treated as CITO-Chief In Title Only, without authority in decision making.

To make it fair, there’s also “bias” to view CFO role, they are viewed as “bean counter”, opposite to innovation agent, CFOs may view IT as an unpredictable cost and there is very little visibility into, or accountability for, IT costs. In other words, there is essentially no accounting, charging or budgeting for most IT expenditures. As CFOs want control over costs, and they want IT to be in one bucket so they can measure it easily. But IT is embedded in every organization and every department and every budget, not just one. CFOs need to learn to measure IT differently than other business budget lines. Industry analysts even declare: Every budget is an IT budget, Technology is embedded in every product.

When CFO and CIO can exchange or expand their lens to see the business world holistically, they may understand each other more: IT is oriented toward change and finance is all about consistency. Once something is locked down, finance is loath to change it. That may make for sound cost management, but it can be a barrier to innovation.

2.    CFO not always “Mean”, CIO not just “Lean” -- Wear Strategic Hat On

Information is more pervasive than ever these days, businesses cross-sectors declare themselves at information businesses, thus, there’s a plethora of opportunities on the IT horizon. In order not to miss opportunities, CFO and CIO need transparency, and they need to talk.

IT actually does well in improving efficiency; the recent industry study showed that its record of doing more with less (a response found frequently in IT study) makes IT a business segment leader in productivity. While measuring IT largely on the Lean “do more with less” criterion may warm the CFO’s heart, it can run counter to the concept of implementing new technology to drive innovation.

As CFO, you may need shift your finance’s “mean” mindset, or take off your IT customer hat, and act as visionary business leaders to perceive IT as silver lining for business growth and leverage IT to drive value across the business.

The most mature organizations see IT as a business partner, from a financial management perspective. IT need be seen as a key contributor to corporate strategy. Therefore, CFO and CIO are well-positioned to communicate in-depth and work together at generating business value from enterprise IT investments. As a lack of transparency on a financial basis which only fans the flames between the groups as IT has always been seen as a cost center and a rather expenses one at that. Ultimately, More transparency in the IT's value proposition to the business plus more engagement an partnership is need with the Business.

CFO may help CIO strengthen the relationship between IT investments and IT finance returns by holding business sponsors accountable for realizing the benefits outlined in strong business case, to ensure that project justifications outline the strategic value and operational metrics that serve as leading indicators to projected financial benefits (improvements in cycle time, quality, value, accuracy, customer service, etc.) and that project plans incorporate baseline measurement and post-implementation monitoring.

CFO & CIO can also work closely with board to determine which key performance indicators and IT metrics may help senior leadership oversee IT effectively. Examples of key IT performance indicators are: reliability of all key operational systems (number and duration of unplanned outages), number of active significant IT projects, return on investment for significant IT projects, IT spend versus budget--by major category,

3.    CIO’s 5 “I”s Meets CFO’s 5 “F”s

Modern CIO & CFO both need wear multiple hats to face rapidly changing business dynamic, and look at business from strategic long term and operational quick win, besides “I”-infrastructure CIO’s 5”I” missions may include: Innovation, Influence, Integration, Information and Improvement, and surely, “F” doesn’t mean failure, CFO’s 5 “F” faces are Flexibility, Fluid, Fertilization, Frugality, and Finance.

Effective cost management is one phase of the process of effective financial management. It allows for a baseline to communicate that consumption equates to real costs that must be met somewhere in the organization. Running IT more like business: Charge back or show back systems can also be used to measure IT value, in addition to their normal role in demand management. When executed across business hierarchies, in enough detail, they are a great way of aligning costs with revenue and performing other types of performance measurement

The best governed organizations in which CFO & CIO works more collaboratively & carefully measure in great detail and manage the costs of IT, comparing those costs to the economic value they receive from them. They actively measure what the value of IT services is, by comparing the total cost of ownership to the return on investment.

Potentially a larger cost management opportunity is the transparency in sourcing decisions to allow for cost-effective sourcing strategy. CIO & CFO may also need work closely on studying the trends, such as Cloud, which provides opportunity to transform IT capital investment into operational expense, for many budge-tight businesses, it improves finance fluid & flexibility, also help IT focus on innovation & improvement.  However, business may also bypass IT to order SAAS based services on their own, As CFO, you need to understand the risks that arise when business leaders take IT into their own hands and help your CIO rein in the rogues. This is a spending issue (those credit-card swipes can mount up) as well as security, risk and performance issues, and all that falls within the CFO's natural purview.

The good IT investment may just like the rubber meets the ground, all about where and when. Actually CFO and CIO can also be like-minded about IT investment: When it comes to areas that CFOs would like to invest in, the study showed that business intelligence, analytics and performance management are at the top of the list. CFOs clearly recognize the need for improved technology support for these key business processes and identified the top business process area that needs technology investment as the ability to facilitate analysis and decision making (57 percent) closely followed by collaboration and knowledge management (52 percent). Those projects are usually also strategic CIO’s top choices. 

Therefore, CFOs crunch number, not for number’s sake, and CIO hunts for data, also not for data’s sake; they need use finance data and enterprise information to weave a brighter business picture of future, they need work together via communication and collaboration and deliver the consistent message: Doing more with Innovation and deliver business value via long-term planning.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

How Is IT Perceived by Business?

The data shows a disturbing gap between IT perception of itself as reasonably innovative and effective, and non-IT’s the lukewarm view.

There’re discrepancies between how IT evaluates its own performance and how IT perceived by business. Here is a brief summary.
Statistically, less than 50% of non-IT people consider their IT teams integral to the business, the survey finds, and 54% consider IT a support or maintenance organization and not an innovator. But more than half of them say technology’s becoming more critical to the business.

1. Is IT a Drag or an Engine of Innovation?

The data shows a disparity between how IT views its performance (not bad) and how non-IT pros view it (not good). For example, asked if their companies’ business users are at least moderately happy with the quality, timeliness, and cost of IT projects, around two-thirds of IT people say yes, but just half of non-IT pros said so. Asked if IT is foremost a support or maintenance organization (as opposed to the innovation engine it might want to be), 39% of IT pros agreed, but 54% of non-IT pros agreed. Thus, the data shows a disturbing gap between IT’s perception of itself as reasonably innovative and effective, and non -IT’s the lukewarm view.

Here, IT is seen as a drag on innovation. The user perception of IT is very low and generally, this perception is ignored by senior IT management as not being of importance; one respondent said. Said another: “Unfortunately, IT in our business is seen as a roadblock—users want to use personal devices, social networks, cloud services, etc., and we often prevent that entirely or provide poor internal substitutes.”

2.  Do More with Less is not enough

One argument is that IT has done a too good job in its cost-cutting role. A recent Gartner study showed that its record of doing more with less (a response found frequently in IT study) makes IT a business segment leader in productivity. But while measuring IT largely on the “do more with less” criterion may warm the CFO’s heart, it can run counter to the concept of implementing new technology to drive innovation. CIOs have made IT more efficient, with the result of devaluing IT as the returns on efficiency.

Only about a fourth of IT and non-IT pros say their organization is an innovation leader. When three-quarters of employees consider their organization an also-ran in innovation, you have a problem. Only 32% of the IT respondents think that IT plays an extremely important role in business innovation; only 25% of non-IT respondents think so.

3. Who’s to Blame for Lack of Innovation

At too many companies, no one’s in charge of innovation, there are scant funds to pursue it, and training is mostly do-it-yourself. But at least one survey finding is encouraging: Most respondents think business and IT departments are equally at fault for their dearth of innovation.

Dedicated IT funding for innovative new projects is scarce—only 13% of IT and 14% of non-IT respondents said their companies have such a fund. Similarly, 16% of IT respondents and 13% of non-IT respondents said, such projects are a fairly easy sell despite no dedicated fund. The lion’s share of respondents said funding is project-dependent (37% of IT and 29% of non-IT). However, a notably large percentage of respondents (24% of IT, 17% of non-IT) takes the dim view that projects take so many executive approvals that “by that time, they’re no longer innovative,

The idea that the IT organization is overlooked as an innovation driver and is being bypassed by business units comes at an odd time when you consider the robust new technology prospects and pervasive information influence. IT is in demand. But IT pros must keep evolving and adapting. As other departments (most notably marketing) have embarked on technology strategies, the role of the CIO has also evolved into a collaborative and consulting role with those departments. “We are moving from classic design, develop and deploy to collaborate, integrate and secure,” more CIOs claim.

Five Ways to Fail BI projects

A new report from market research firm Gartner says that 70 to 80 percent of all corporate business intelligent projects fail. According to the report, the reason for those failures is a combination of poor communication between IT and the business, the failure to ask the right questions and the failure to think about the real needs of the business. While an Accenture survey of managers in Fortune 500 Companies found that 59% cannot find valuable information they need to do their jobs; 42% accidentally use the wrong information about once a week and 53% believe the information they receive is not valuable to them.

But business analytics is listed at the top of most CIOs’ project agenda, so how to learn from others’ failure lessons, besides avoiding the pitfalls for traditional IT project, what are specific failures BI projects need avoid:   

1. Approach BI as Engineering Solution

Remember, BI project is always related with business. Usually the failure is caused by not well-defined project requirement, or the project is not aligned with strategies needs as a result of bad communication between IT and business.

"If you don't ask the right questions, BI is not a crystal ball that pops out the answer," Some industry analysts warn. "People in IT need to stop approaching BI as a vendor or engineering solution or as a tool. They need to understand what business they are in. They are in the information and communication business”.

  • Collect requirements agreed with business stake holders and end users. These should then be adhered to and delivered without compromise. When business does not know what they want and give some abrupt requirement. And at the time of delivery, they come and say this was not our requirement. Then for sure the project is failed.

  • Define your plan, then follow it. Any BI tool will only deliver what is required , if the project team have clear requirements. Not the other way around. Time spent on a well documented plan with defined requirements, metrics, functionality, scope, and a chosen methodology combined with a feasibility analysis concerning budget and time should be set in stone before doing ANYTHING. Find out what the client needs, set up lines of communication, gather a competent team, and follow a written guideline. This over-simplified explanation should give insight into how you can lessen the impact of any negative factors.

  • When approach BI as Engineering solution, it always fails. Business does not understand (nor really care about) technology, and vice versa for IT. Need a strong liaison to start with the business and drive through to technology in a reasonable manner for BOTH areas. Business will better understand and trust what they can "reasonably" get and IT will be better able to deliver what is "reasonable".

  • Reconciliation. If your numbers don't reflect the numbers that are represented in trusted sources, the business will neither believe nor trust the BI source. It has represented a huge waste of time and money on many projects.

  • The Golden Rule of software development: Don’t let enthusiasm cloud judgment. Recognize the importance of working closely with the application end users.  It's also critical to invest time and effort that all parties put into a successful project.

2. Data is Not Good Enough

It’s all about data: data manage­ment is the number-one challenge companies face in their use or adoption of business analytics. The detailed data Issues include data qual­ity, consistency, integrity, complex Data Model/Cubes and data ac­cess.

“Department silos” also ranks high in the challenges busi­nesses face in their business analytics deployments. In the majority of companies, information is not shared consistently & coherently across the organization, nor is data readily available to those who need it. Companies are also con­strained by a lack of integrated processes—operating within the department/functional unit level—which is a death knell to effective analytics across the organization.

3. Lack of Sufficient Business Governance 

  • Lack of sufficient governance framework supported by the leadership/decision makers of the enterprise and socialized to the user community. 
  • Irregular/non-existent stakeholder cadence to review and accept the changing needs of the enterprise with engaged stakeholders. 
  • Unclear understanding or top-down acceptance of who the key stakeholders are. 
  • Insufficient acquisition/understanding/agreement of the business objectives. 
  • Too much and too complex solutions too soon. Larger releases in the beginning as opposed to smaller incremental value. 
  • Failure to engage stakeholders and data stewards from across the departments /divisions. 
  • Absence of a "control model". Business plans, business models and action plans are not enough. 
  • Lack of interest ("fear", weak data maturity, etc.) from Management in modern BI-tools. 
  • Lack of understanding from Management when it comes to the need for involvement in the requirements on the BI-systems. 
  • Shortcomings in communication to end-users, why, when, how, etc.. 
  • Constantly changing demands and priorities
  • "Politics" and poor personal relationships between in and around Management. 

4. Lack of Architectural Consistency     

  • Lack of architectural boundaries and accepted patterns of implementation. 
  • Long initial delivery cycles that are not iterative and adaptive to business needs. 
  • Inconsistent requirement tracking/meta-data management and prioritization. 
  • Lack of consistent mechanisms to track and manage integrity, quality, and currency of data in BI as compared to the source providers. 
  • Little or no management of service level or interface agreement between source providers and (internal systems or external systems alike) 
  • Limiting meta-data models with little training to report authors and business analysts on how to properly construct information using the models.

5. Treat BI as Traditional IT Project

Why shouldn’t BI be treated as a traditional IT project... because it’s more dynamic to adapt to constant changes and it’s extremely business focused. You can never guess/speculate what question will come next from your users - you just have to make sure you can react as quickly as possible with a flexible solution that does not take months to change something.

One of the main causes of failure to BI Projects has been that the technical requirements haven't been pinned down, and the client adds to the scope as the project is in the development phrase. Scope creep is a killer - the client says "the developers got it wrong" when they are working towards a moving target due to constant changes.

The client will want the perfect solution with everything they could possible need to reporting and also hope it "future proofed", but in reality, some specific BI roadblocks include:

-  Ownership by Client / Insufficient User Involvement
- Large Scope
- Data Integrity/Quality
- Budget Hogs/Funding
- Corporate rivalries
- Poorly defined or incomplete KPI’s
- Complex Data Model/Cubes
- Strong coupling between EDW and BI environment
- Lack of right talent to deliver project on value

Learning from failure is bitter, but it helps business & IT become healthier and improving. As one of authors well put, when facing failure, one shouldn’t tiptoe around them, or just rename them "teaching moments" or "issues.", one shouldn’t play blame games, the right attitude is to lay their mistakes bare so that their teams can improve.

To learn more from failures:

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Intelligent Process vs. Process Intelligence

Well align multi-dimensional business fundamentals such as "process", "people" and "technology" and link these dimensions intelligently (via both intelligent process and process intelligence) to get optimal business performance.

Intelligence Process is the process by which information is converted into intelligence and made available to users. 

The process intelligence can provide process some “intelligence” such as programmability, adaptability, flexibility.

1. What are Intelligent Process & Process Intelligence?

Process intelligence vs. intelligent processes

  • Intelligence Process is the process by which information is converted into intelligence and made available to users. The process consists of six interrelated intelligence operations: planning and direction, collection, processing and exploitation, analysis and production, dissemination and integration, and evaluation and feedback. 

  • Process Intelligence: is information that is extracted from a process about the process; throughput times, bottlenecks etc. as the process could be a simple, badly designed or clever. Process intelligence can also mean process governance –the process to manage process, such as risk control, compliance, monitoring etc.

2. Where do you draw the line between process intelligence and intelligent processes?

  • Process Intelligence Tool to Measure Intelligent Processes: Intelligent Processes are smart because they are well designed and are self monitoring. Not only do they cleverly do the job they are designed for,  but also they provide precise, predictive and important information (from event logs or alerts). This allows them to be closely monitored by a process intelligence tool (using process mining or predictive analysis., etc). Ultimately they may be self monitoring.
  • The line between intelligent process & process intelligence: the processes which are programmed and adaptable to be classified as "intelligent" processes, and this kind of programmability/adaptability incorporated in these processes is what may be called as "process" intelligence. 

3. What makes a process intelligent?

  • A Close-Loop PDCA Cycle: A typical plan-do-check-act cycle is a good way to make a process intelligent, but remember to close the cycle, otherwise, the process will not benefit from its learning. 
  • Holistic Process Management System: As a whole, you create a system around the process, call it a management system, and if you look at sophisticated management systems, you align process with the organization's strategy, the system becomes a vehicle for strategy execution in this way, and the intelligent process is well shaped.
  • “Intelligent” Process is ineffective without People: Separating process from people was the approach used by industrial engineers, where the “Experts” defined the well-thought out processes. This approach, although intellectually engaging, has been proven ineffective by Lean methods in practice. 
  • There is no such thing as intelligent processes ... only intelligent people. Where people do not have a hands-on relationship to process, a culture of conformity replaces innovation and the process becomes stagnant very quickly. 

4. What kind of input does an intelligent process need from process intelligence?

The process intelligence can provide process some “intelligence” such as programmability, adaptability, flexibility ... some form of information & feedback into the process to account for changes inside the process and those coming from outside that impact the process and influence what actions to take, when and where.
  • 'Doing a process intelligence' also means that you're an outsider observing a process, trying to figure out what it's doing and how it's doing it so that you can copy it, maintain it, change it or destroy it. 
  • 'Doing/having an intelligent process' is about design and construction with built in checks, rules, feedbacks and all those nice things all internal to the process itself,  its behavior. You can also observe an intelligent process to extract some process intelligence!

5. What are the business drivers for intelligent processes?

  • Process Automation: can process automation provide the tools (process intelligence and escalation vehicles) to help humans make processes intelligent? Many organizations are combining BPM, BAM (Business Activity Management) and Business BRM (Business Rules Management: possibly causing escalations in the context of the process) - but does this already make the processes "intelligent"? If the automation is done right and the correct intelligence put in place, then the automation will complement and enhance the processes and controls that go along with it.
  • Collaboration & Innovation: Process is one of the greatest tools for collaboration. The intelligence in a process comes from people. An intelligent process is therefore one that can capture knowledge and provide a structure for collaboration and innovation; intelligent process easily grows more intelligent.
  • Business Goal Oriented: Intelligence is a human quality. Processes get 'smarter' by being A) goal-oriented; B) behavioral patterns; C) Dynamic. Goal-oriented programs are dynamic as they bend with circumstances to best meet objectives rather than inflexibly enforcing procedures despite circumstances. 
  • Optimal Business Performance: Well align multi-dimensional business fundamentals such as "process", "people" and "technology" and link these dimensions intelligently (via both intelligent process and process intelligence) to get optimal business performance