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, July 31, 2013

CIO as Chief Influencer II: How to Lead Enterprise Social Media Initiatives Effectively

Add social collaboration theme to IT management.

Organizations large or small feel enthusiastic about social computing, the CIO is usually the role in orchestrating enterprise’s social strategy, set up the social platform and tools, also govern the activities and monitor the performance. Do CIOs need to immerse themselves in social media to effectively lead their organizations in social media initiatives?

  • A CIO can take advantage of the opportunity to practice leadership influence. It may depend on the nature of the project. The use of social networks internally and externally, while appearing similar from a tools perspective, can differ greatly in their objectives, adoption, management, etc; internal enterprise social media projects look at driving collaboration and awareness between teams; externally facing projects look to drive awareness and engagement with markets and customer groups. Within the internal projects, the CIO role is equal to any of the CxOs, leading engagement and demonstrating the value of such media is to practice leadership influence. Externally facing projects would differ based on many factors including how core technology/systems are, how the firm engages its customers and how directly those elements relevant to the products and services the firm delivers.
  •  The social media strategy is part of IT strategy which is an integral element of overall business strategy. Based on that foundation, the CIO needs to champion the Social Media Strategy and implementation, assist in evaluating technologies (and respective architectural platforms) and help coordinate with other enterprise stakeholders such as Privacy, Compliance, Corporate Communications, Records Retention and General Counsel. A CIO also must ensure understanding of the business need, ROI, and make sure he/she is able to translate the technical needs into the business language A CIO's responsibility is to understand the business's collaboration needs and innovation pursuit today and into the future.A CIO does not have to be an avid “user” of every social solution, but he/she can have his/her own preference to use it wisely, not only consume content but also create the content. Although a CIO may lead such initiatives without themselves being active users, the chances are greater that internal social networks could offer more in the way of helping an executive directly in getting their work done. In addition, if a CIO needs to gain the reputation as a true leadership role, she or he should take advantage of the social platform to ‘voice’ out and make an influence. The CIO needs business leaders to also give up the controls and let things flow a bit.
  • Add social collaboration theme to IT management: If the CIO and IT take initiatives in driving internal social effort, they may also need to be exemplary to use it in IT management as well. Moreover, eat your own cooking is part of a CIO's strategy to give everybody in the organization the user experience. Indeed, enterprise social platform provides enriched communication channels and alternative talent pipelines in transforming IT and business. A CIO should set the environment for experimentation and learning, find and celebrate innovative things that come up, so he/she can gain effectiveness and productivity in leadership influence and management practices. Enterprise social computing should laser focus on business goals and get measured qualitatively and quantitatively, that's the key difference between enterprise social solutions and consumer social media websites, otherwise, it may become distraction and drag down the productivity, and CIO/IT plays the role of the builder and controller, social does as enabler/orchestrator to encourage knowledge sharing, collaboration, innovation. ROIs should be quantifiable, easy to measure.
Although it is not a REQUIREMENT for CIOs to be active to understand the broader value and to lead business social media initiatives, from time management perspective, there’s also no need to be “omnipresent” at social world, forward-looking CIO leaders will use it selectively and wisely, to let employees understand your thought, to have executive peers get to know each other's strength, to connect the dots in the business ecosystem beyond the four wall of your own organization, as at many circumstances, the true business transformation needs to impact the whole value chain and ecological system.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

EA as Value Creator: How to Communicate with C-Level?

The architecture is made up from common sense, logic, and analogies that most can relate to...

Future of CIOEA plays an important role in an overly-complex businesses dynamic today, however, it still has a reputation as an “ivory tower” approach. While talking about showing enough to generate the buy-in, what sorts of artifacts or analyses are useful in building enthusiasm for an  Enterprise EA effort? How to focus on ‘value-add” in a measurable context so it can be appreciated immediately when communicating with C-level or board?

  •  EA allows the business to ‘see’ itself more clearly. EA has a vital role in providing the leadership team with an objective, rational and usually very well researched view of the way the Enterprise is built such as visible maps, journeys, and key processes or capability heat map - backed up with real data - to provide a perspective on how well the business operates internally and within its market. 
  • EA harmonizes enterprise effectiveness. EA can enable stakeholders to consolidate, reject, and approve demands according to the alignment with the business strategic goals and priorities & architecture. It is about business demands & as well as IT demands projects and new ideas and initiatives, to ensure that all functional organizations - are collectively and harmoniously doing the right things and making the right decisions to effectively enable the business run, grow and transform. 
  • EA needs to develop a consistent set of high-level deliverables, that the business can understand and enable them to make better decisions in driving business transformation. EA can focus on the project portfolio and the impact on organization and cost! Convince business to have a framework (mostly a set of EA elements) to quantify their decision on initiatives and clear the path to get to the vision or business goals for the transformation journey 
  • EA needs to present value in both management and governance disciplines. There are three characteristics of effective EA: (1) Excellence in Delivery (2). Deep technical Perspective (3).Innovation withstanding market scrutiny. EA has at least three levels of governance, 1) one at the demand /initiative level 2) second at the architecture level and 3) third at the solution level. 

  • Create a simple descriptive balanced scorecard,  to show what is a common theme across all the initiatives make profits by either saving on investments or increasing revenue. Identify the indicators to show the program actually saves money by instrumenting the indicators. If you can't quantify you can’t have an objective argument. Set up the process of instrumenting the performance indicators to see how the progress is measured and what does IMPROVEMENT really means.  
EA needs to be a value creator and should be communicated effectively, as architecture is made up from common sense, logic, and analogies that most can relate to...some say the current state of Enterprise Architecture as a double-sided mirror at the Business/IT border - each sees only a reflection of itself. A true enterprise architect should have dual citizenship in both worlds - but be a master of its own domain. It's time to embrace a high maturity EA.

What Factors keep Business from Championing transformational change?

"A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others see."  - Leroy Eime
Organizations large or small are faced with more radical digital or management transformation now, however, change management (the overarching term includes both transformation and change) has very high failure rate overall, what factors keep business from championing transformational changes, or what are key success factors in driving transformation?

  • Transformation needs to be led by transformational leaders. Find those who thrive on change... That's a good start. Understanding each executive's authentic capability is where organizations need to start -- the team of transformational leaders should utilize four functions of organizational change: Vision, Culture, Systems, and Operations. With the right leaders are in place at the right time in a business life cycle or condition, the transformation is natural and easy. 
  • Transformation requires a commitment to a goal: That isn’t just an extension of continuous improvement of the current business. So thinking outside the current constraints and comfort zones requires a different vision and the courage to pursue it. The first best factor to the “transformational change” and its further “championing” has been the endless self-exploration and self-transformation in the material, emotional, intellectual and spiritual dimensions that need to co-evolve together.  
  • Transformation involves risks: The case for transformational change must overcome "the good enough mindset" (such as performance that keeps me in the top 20%). Transformational change by definition involves risks. Why should you take the risk of being in the top 1% if being in the next 19% keeps life good? In addition, does the organization have the ability and interest in leveraging and engaging the current resources while staying focused on future corporate and individual potential? 
  • Transformation takes a holistic approach. Too often transformational change is acted on the basis of improving one part of an organization at the expense of other parts of the organization. The main reason is that up to this point in time most leaders have been silo managers and don't really have the business skills or personality traits to lead transformation and change. 
  • There are some additional factors to cause failure:
    a) Lack of vision; b) Fear of the unknown; fear of failure! c) Competency at all levels; d) Comfort with the status quo; e) Timing f) "Perceived" cost of transformation; g) Complacency - Leaders often miss the big picture and become complacent! h) Blind to a need or a path; i) Unwilling to make the effort
The new generation of transformational leaders will be persons who have cross-domain business and personality traits. That is, this kind of leader is able to carry a compelling conversation across domains and speak the language of those persons within each silo which is no small task.

Monday, July 29, 2013

What does Business Expect from IT

The business expects IT to become the new capability enablers at a higher-changing digital dynamic.

High-performing IT is leading with empathy, to understand business customers' frustration and pressure points from their perspective and find a way to move the business issues forward in a way that is advantageous to the entire enterprise. First of all, what does the business expect from IT?

Business productivity: Business needs IT to deliver services/solutions that drive business productivity and effectiveness. IT should provide the Business with a platform to sustain, manage effectively with accurate and appropriate data whenever required, and also provide the business to explore/venture into new areas that'll provide value to the business.

Business efficiency: The business wants fit-for-purpose IT solutions that enable them to be efficient in delivering services and products to their market at the right cost to deliver profits to the shareholder. The fit-for-purpose means the right foundation of functional building blocks, with all the common non-functional 'abilities' (availability, reliability, scalability, reconfigurability, interoperability, elasticity, security, etc) at an acceptable cost. IT should focus on delivering high quality, reusable, consistent services that support the business's needs in a cost-effective manner over the long term.

Business profitability: Business needs IT to provide better information to achieve improved profitability, IT provides a nervous system to the business. If intelligence built is poor or not managed in a proper way, it may lead to wrong decisions and hence impact on the business. But if IT can capture insight/foresight, the business would prosper and grow. It totally depends on a deep understanding of the business and implementing it using IT tools and techniques. IT organizations deliver precise, authentic and on-time information to the business for making the right decisions at the right time to make efficient use of all other resources. Improve enterprise revenue through better customer loyalty.

Business innovation: Businesses are looking for IT to add new innovative methods for management of complexity, data transformation, improving quality, agile construction, etc. Foster an innovation culture to create innovative IT-enabled business models and business capabilities through a combination of existing and emerging technologies. Deliver the innovative capabilities to capture first-mover advantages. IT can keep business areas up to date with the opportunities emerging technology provides.

Business Agility: Business expects IT to figure out ways to make the business agiler. IT is only increasing in importance and relevance with each passing day. IT shifts to be more “I” focus: Information, Intelligence, Innovation, Integration, Improvement, Interface, the numerous perceptions of IT guiding the business towards the right direction and to deliver services/solutions that address concerns for TCO and future agility. That could mean helping business to implement products and solutions at a lower cost so business is able to efficiently utilize limited capital for bringing more products & services to the market, that could mean creating efficiency in the processes so business can compete with the competition in terms of offering products & services faster than competitors, that could mean providing data which will help dissect the trends and help business create more products & services and ultimately provide reporting which will help measure the value-add of what is delivered as a product or service so quick adjustments can be made to keep profits coming.

Business Capability: Business expects IT to become the new capability enabler at higher-changing organizations that compete on product/service differentiation. IT enables a business to access, consume and generate the information necessary to perform a range of business tasks/functions, (not all of which are about decisions), but all of which require collective human capabilities which are a subset of the business capability to perform some part of the action/process. Immediate or timely access becomes an element. Ability to apply a range of predefined business rules which contribute to improved quality of information and enforce a unique set of business capability.

Business Resilience: Technology brings both significant opportunities and risk for organizations today, the business expects IT to play a critical role in governance and risk management, to ensure rigorous compliance with regulatory requirements and move up business from risk mitigation to risk intelligence, in order to run and protect business flawlessly. Also, develop an IT organization that is flexible to accommodate rapidly changing business strategies and requirements.

Process Governance Best Practices

Process Governance allows the advantages of standardization, decrease in duplication of effort, and decreased risk of violations that can occur. For large organizations, usually a Global Process Board governs the business processes. Whoever governs, ensure the process is more focused from enterprise and business perspective. What are those process governance best practices?

  • The need for senior management to keep focused. The challenge seems that hype increases for a BPM initiative or process improvement and senior management is heavily engaged. The challenge becomes obtaining that shift in the culture where      continuous improvement is the focus. It's nature evolution in transforming the organization made of functional silos into a process-focused organization. If senior management focus wanes, governance becomes harder. Get senior management focus and ensure that process owners are at a sufficiently senior level in the organization to do more than influence the change, they must be able to drive it. And once the governance is in place, business must measure process performance in order to drive improvement, otherwise how do you know if you are being successful and delivering value? 
  • There are three types of Process governance initiatives that are likely to be aligned with process improvement and change: (1) Efficiency and standardization, (2) customer focus, and (3) innovation. Internal boards for process control [governance] can crush innovation and customer-centric initiatives. Similar to an investment portfolio, you want representative efforts in all three areas, and you should have representatives from all three camps on your council. You want to have the customer-focused experts and innovators involved. Otherwise, you run a risk that you'll invest to improve process governance and find you've made yourself less competitive. 
  • Identify, plan and take governance decisions on the levels that needs to be followed in the system model, organizations go for defining end-to-end processes for system models, such as, Engagement processes and Enabling processes. Usually, the end-to-end system model is under change control. Any change in the processes has to be approved by the management. Business Process Managers (BPM) submits the proposal along with the activity name and description, and justification for change in the process. Look at the granularity to drill down in the process levels. Whether the process levels should drill down to the extent of identifying end-to-end activities (that is without including technological elements) or should it be drilled down to the actions that users perform in the system (that includes technological elements).  
  • Well establish process success metrics. If you are successfully measuring your process success at establish milestones in the process then the metrics captured provide more than anecdotal evidence that a process is in need of improvement or is failing in some manner. Business processes need to be treated as business assets. If you are not measuring the performance of these assets and senior management does not have a long-term strategy to improve and leverage these assets, governance becomes significantly more challenging. 
Thus, well managed governance practices are not just for controlling process or stifling innovation, it's the business discipline to enforce process intelligence and  process innovation as well.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Five Key Factors in Driving Big Data Project Success

Until organizations get an operational context that can respond to new capabilities, the project can be technically successful, but never deliver enough business value to gain support.

Big Data is hot trend, but Big Data project has very low success rate, so the real question is how organizations deal with the situation. Do they continue to pour resource into a failing project, or do they shut it down early to learn what they can get from the experience and move forward? What are the key factors to be considered in order to drive Big Data project success?

1.  Have a Business Goal in Mind 

It needs to be clear what the outcomes of the project will be, who can/will benefit and how they can/will benefit. It is critical that at the end of the day you have the right team in place to use the insights that come from the projects, what better decision will you be able to make as a result of the analysis and how will you drive and track those better decisions,

It is understandable that many BDA projects are started but in a competitive internal environment, so most of these projects have no defined business driver or requirement. As long as Big Data projects continue to be treated as pure IT projects, the failures will continue to pile up. Getting the machinery running is generally not the issue, it is the failure to deliver value because the end-users and core decision makers are ill equipped to "get it" and can not extract and use the inherent value in the mass of data at their fingertips. Converting big data, into understandable, digestible, useful and actionable information is the business purpose from Big Data project.

2 Assume Data Imperfection & Immature Technology 

Data will be incomplete and less than pristine (duplicates, incompleteness etc.) in the Big Data analytics, and the analytics must accommodate the real state of the data. By the time a project gets going, there's probably around 30% more data (both in volume and diversity) available. The analytics will need to be refined and adapted because you don't know everything when you start. Your framework for developing and deploying the analytics should support an iterative development approach

Lack of resources, high data volume, new technology that is not production ready, variety of data sources and high data volume is plaguing the industry. This is also encouraging innovation at a very fast rate, but it will take time for industry to mature and stabilize and then the success rate will increase and will come more in line with industry standard success rate of projects or even higher. 

3. Big Data Talent  

The pitfalls of most of these projects is because Big Data seems like a disruptive technology and the old users of the systems are not equipped with these new concepts and will go a long way to see it fails.

 There are generally two distinct skill-sets, technical on the architecture side and the analytical skill set to create action based on the information. You need a solid team for both to have a shot. If not you wasted time, money, effort and potentially damaged  prospects for the next projects coming down the pike. For example if your new project can tie your CRM and other support systems all up in a nice wrapper and you can see how purchases, the loyalty program and your customer service activities can help someone put their customers into groups, it doesn't do any good if there isn't someone in marketing or in a specialized analytical role/group that can DO something with that information, like recognizing triggers that a customer is more/less receptive to a certain kind of marketing/up-sell/cross-sell messaging or that there seems to be a risk of the customer leaving. 

"The statistician is no longer an alchemist expected to produce gold from any worthless material offered him. He is more like a chemist capable of assaying exactly how much of value it contains, and capable also of extracting this amount, and no more. In these circumstances, it would be foolish to commend a statistician because his results are precise or to reprove because they are not. If he is competent in his craft, the value of the result follows solely from the value of the material given him. It contains so much information and no more. His job is only to produce what it contains." Ronald A. Fisher

4. Collaborate Effective Processes with Right Talent 

Poor planning and coordination are organization and project management related, however, the nature of most big data projects requires the ability to read and rapidly process variety of data, high volume data sources, making coordination critical. Things get complicated very quickly as the structure of these data sources and the business needs continue to evolve. If organizations are unable to staff the right kind of data scientist(s) who have all the skills to take the project forward, and understand the business needs, they end up staffing a lot of individuals to fulfill the skill set needs. This creates a communication and coordination issues...communication touch points increase with the square of number of individuals involved in the project .. and we know how things go from there.

That has remained constant, or at least linearly increased, is the number of prospective users of data who seek magic over math, confuse computational speed with statistical precision, and generally would prefer the answers they seek over the answers that past analysis has given them regardless of scale.

On the business side, Businesses haven’t yet fully understand how to redesign business processes so that they can take advantage of what big data can potentially tell.  Poor cooperation, poor planning and lack of skills should be categorized under organizational failures rather than Big Data centered project failures though.

5. The Big Data Life Cycle Management 

The life cycle of big data is to evaluate capacity planning for Big data services through timely intervals and expected growth cycles. The velocity and a metric for relevant time sensitivity is important in the collection processes of what you are analyzing and for what purpose pursuant to the predictive analytics needed to support the model coupled with levels of complexity.

 For a couple of decades, IT has been pushing towards a "single source of truth" in data management. A lot of money and technology is aimed at getting everything to line up and agree. There is a whole "Master Data Management" industry evolved out of the desire for consistency and correctness - never mind the legal requirements to get the data "right". Big data often threatens all this and makes a lot of IT shops nervous, so projects get sidetracked, slowed or abandoned because it takes the new angle and multi-dimensional lens in capturing insight upon Big Data.

Until organizations get an operational context that can respond to new capabilities, the project can be technically successful, but never deliver enough business value to gain support. In that situation you probably won't get to do another one.... Big Data has all tough characteristics, how to build the Big Data modeling framework as a systematic approach to master volume, velocity and complexity needs to be thought through.

Mastering Big Data is more as journey, not a one time project,. It is the nature of the beast that "noise over signal" dominates every epistemological effort. A certain amount of project failure ought to be tolerated if innovation is being sought. With considering all key factors listed above, organizations can make progress in driving Big Data success.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

IT Benchmarking - Love it or Hate it?

Benchmarks can be great but can be really misleading as well.

IT leaders like CIOs do their best to improve and present IT performance, IT benchmarking is such an approach. Although IT benchmarking data gets a controversial viewpoint, some love it, while others do not so buy-in. Metrics are great for comparing against peers in the industry but do they really tell you if you're at a competitive position?

Information in Benchmarking is helpful. The more details in benchmarks the better information can be used. It’s critical to understand to a certain degree where you stand. Obviously, any data is subject to interpretation when it comes to benchmarking, metrics, KPI's, etc. But as an IT executives, you must constantly be measuring where you stand internally and externally. Many times the external data validates the assumptions or predispositions you had prior to making a strategic or tactical decision. Other times the data causes you to ask questions that drive discussions leading to change or modification from a strategic perspective. Regardless, the numbers have to be looked at in order to solidify forward strategy and progress. The benchmarking data can be used to validate decisions already made, not just inform decisions you have yet to make. 

A set of standards to measure for similar types of businesses needs to be enforced at the CIO level in order for benchmarks to really work. This should include the rate of return to the company for the total amount spent on IT. Until benchmarks are standardized to encompass all of IT spending across the entire organization and made objectively, they will remain a tool for IT executives to get budgets approved. Overall, benchmark results are just the beginning. The real question is, why are you different from the average presented in the benchmark and is that okay, or should you do something different. Are the companies you are being compared to in exactly the same place? That is, have they been spending /investing at the same rate over time as your company. They could very well have invested far more or far less than your firm, meaning their current operating expense levels are based on a completely different baseline.

The key is the context. Benchmarks can be great but can be really misleading too. If an activity is required and important, benchmarks can assist in ensuring that the company maintains competitiveness / relevance. But it might be better to reduce the activities and streamline operations by thinking outside the proverbial box - something that would go unnoticed if the company is focused on benchmarks. Benchmarks are great if they are true not used to market specific company and give indications about the market and industry.

The benchmark is usually APPLE-to-APPLE comparison; same business model, same industry, and within same competition domain. The problem is no two companies are exactly alike in the same product/services/customer mix; they also vary in their investment cycle of growth and cost management. The thing about statistics is that they can work both ways for and against you in a meeting unless you explain how they are to be used and why. The broader industry metrics tend to be a guideline while the more granular they become opens it up to specific interpretations. Bottom Line: They are interesting to read and be conscious of.
Benchmarking can provide only a backwards-looking perspective because the data, necessarily, refers to how both the 'peer group' and your own organization has performed in the past. That often varies wildly from how the peer group is performing now, and from what your own organization wants or needs to do next. It is far more important to understand your own current state & strategic goals, to gather rapid feedback regarding current performance and progress made toward those goals, to analyze the root conditions & causes that apply, to investigate the various solution options, to decide, to act, and then to cycle around.   

High-maturity, high-performing organizations demonstrate a detailed interest in their own performance, may less concerned with what others are doing. Except to determine the current limits to performance ("What is the 'best' performance possible?" "How do others achieve THAT?", etc.). The problem with benchmarks is too often they are subjective and used as a tool to show how well IT is doing rather than showing where they stand in comparison to others. Even with companies in the same field, it is very difficult to measure how one is doing in relation to other when you factor in the criteria each IT division decides to include in their benchmarks. This is further complicated in areas where IT supposedly centralized, but you find business segments with their own internal IT staff. 
Companies have limited resources, it is important to first measure the right things, and then measure them right. Always keep the end - business in mind, the key is context. Therefore, understand pros and cons of benchmarking, and use them wisely.

Architectural Mind: How to Think Like an Enterprise Architect?

 Not everyone is an architect, but everyone can learn how to think like an architect.

Enterprise Architecture is the discipline not just for Enterprise Architects, it's the thinking process every business leader should master, and it's the discipline every mature organization needs to practice.

 Not everyone is an architect, but everyone can learn how to think like architect- systematic thinking, holistic thinking, critical thinking, creative thinking, analytical thinking, synthetic thinking, non-linear thinking, abstract thinking, and whole-brain thinking., etc.

1. Who are EAs by Nature? 

Who is Enterprise Architect? What’re the strengths and skills of an effective EA? Synthesize all the enterprise factors into a cohesive decision framework, and facilitating appropriate business initiatives to execute the resultant strategy. The different role may have a different thinking pattern:
  • The first skill an "architect" must-have is "abstraction" - being able to step back from details and see patterns, generalization, standards, context, and a bigger picture.
  •  The first skill an "engineer" must have is "specification" - being able to focus, and apply with precision, on details by using abstracted standards and patterns from architecture.
  • The first skill a "scientist" must have is "analytical, synthesis, and empirical techniques" - being able to focus and precision on "proving" the consistency of observed phenomena, such as pattern.
  • The first skill a "technician" must-have is "application" - being able to apply the packaged knowledge from the scientist, architect, engineer, and other teachers to their vocation.
Some EAs are also scientists, the others are also engineers or technicians. It is fairly easy to transform a technician into an engineer. It is harder and takes more time and a major conceptual shift to transform an engineer into an architect (going from a specific viewpoint to a general/abstraction viewpoint). And it takes either a totally different path to become a scientist, or many years as an architect to become a scientist, even a naturalistic rather than an empirical one.

2. The Three Most Important Characteristics of an EA 

The three most important characteristics of an EA are, and not necessarily in this order:        
  •        A flexible open-minded, "outside of the box" creative and critical thinker, who can take new strategies and assimilate them into the business or enterprise so that the new strategy becomes a part of the culture. EA has enterprise-level of knowledge, he/she must be able to pass it to other people. Therefore, the architect is also a teacher by nature. 
An excellent communicator, who can clearly articulate the strategic direction of the organization to each stakeholder in the organization, so that they can understand the critical nature of the changes required and the impact to them, their staff, the business and its customers. That in addition to a broad system thinking, the architect must also understand the needs of people, therefore must be able to listen with empathy. 
A team builder who can leverage strengths and create synergies within the enterprise to deliver on the vision or strategies while minimizing cost and maximizing operational efficiencies. The capability to see the abstract concept and put it down on paper for everyone to see is a fundamental EA training which distinguish EA from the others

3. EA as Profession

Enterprise Architect is actually a combination of Architect roles such as
Business Architect (advisory to the Business, process-level);
Solutions Architect (End to End  Solutions);
Application/System Architect (Technology-specific), Data Architect policing every group
(Business and IT) within an enterprise for aspects such as process improvement,
standards, business agility, etc. They also sit at policy/law-making and enforcement group for the enterprise. Thus, you may not be an Enterprise Architect; but you can get a lot of benefits by thinking like an EA.


Corporate Big Five: From Oxymoron to Clarity

Vision is basically a qualitative statement defining the "perception" of the organization.

In order for Built to Last or Good to Great, forward-thinking organizations do need to spend the significant time on clarifying vision and articulating strategy, how to differentiate the following corporate ‘big five”? How to transform them from oxymoron concept into practical planning as well?

1.    What are Corporate “BIG Five” 

Vision is basically a qualitative statement defining the "perception" of the organization. It’s “WHAT” in the ‘to-be’ state of business.  It is defined as a thought, concept, or object formed by the imagination, a manifestation to the senses of something immaterial; the act or power of imagination; mode of seeing or conceiving; unusual discernment or foresight - a vision.

Mission: A mission statement is a brief description of a company's fundamental purpose, succinctly describing why it exists and what it does to achieve its vision. It’s a big "WHY" behind any activities being taken. A mission statement answers the question, "Why do we exist?". The mission statement articulates the company's purpose both for those in the organization and for the public. 

Strategy: A strategy means "the art of the general" (from Greek stratigos). A combination of the ends for which the firm is striving and the means (policies) by which it is seeking to get there. The strategy is the roadmap, mechanics, commitments and precise execution model to achieve the goals. It's the big 'HOW' to fulfill the vision.

Goal: A goal is something that pushes in the direction of the vision. A goal might not be measurable but may be further defined through component objectives.

Objective An objective describes a measurable achievement. Objectives are generally those components of a goal that can be managed and evaluated.

2. Vision vs. Mission 

  • Vision is your future and mission is your present; vision is WHAT and mission is WHY. Vision statements bear you long term goals that you have envisioned for the growth of your business, your reason for existence. Mission statement informs the readers and customers about core values of your firm. Mission statements are like your business priorities, your methods, and values of working that your firm will follow to achieve its objectives. 
  • A Vision is the Noun. A Mission is the Verb. The Vision is the picture. The Mission is the yellow brick road that leads you to the Vision. It's what you have to do to get there. The mission is what you strive to do every day; vision is what you see your company becoming if you stay true to your mission. 
  • A vision is Iinspirational; and mission is motivational; Mission (purpose) is what gets you up every morning to go after that vision. Vision is what you would like to be in long term. Visions are meant to inspire people, and missions are to give them something concrete and motivation to achieve that vision. 

3. Vision vs. Strategy 

  • Vision is WHERE you what to go; while strategy (path) is HOW do you best get there.  A vision (affirmatively worded future) states that an organization desires to achieve; Strategy with Guiding Principles (“words to live by” or what is valued by the organization) is a complex set of related statements used to make choices, motivate the creation of projects, the setting of guidelines,  goals, and the achievement of objectives by employees and partners of an enterprise in support of a business goals. 
  • Vision without Strategy is ‘day-dreaming,’ while Strategy without Vision is blinded. Strategy makes a vision happen. Although there is the danger that strategy is just on paper, it is much closer to being implemented than a vision. Anybody with a dream can draw up a vision. It needs people with the strategic insight into the problem to carve up the vision in actionable steps. But if the strategy has been crafted without clear vision, it may never reach the true destination. 
  • Vision (the WHAT) is more critical than the strategy. but, strategy (the HOW) is ‘harder’ as it requires more effort to define and implement. The true vision is a reflective process of an organization really understanding itself and its purpose, to perceive the future of business; while a strategy is a set of executable actions and commitments toward the goals. 
Therefore, the corporate big five needs to be well defined holistically, as they are correlated and interconnected: Vision, Goals, and objectives - are the end (long term & short term) goal/milestones of an organization. Mission, strategies, and tactics - are the means of achieving the end goals defined in vision/goals/objectives. In the other way, they draw the path through which the organization needs to walk and leap through to reach the vision.

Friday, July 26, 2013

CIO as Communicator: What's your CFO-Friendly Approaches?

Either heart-to-heart chat or CFO-friendly approaches, the CIO and CFO are both strategic allies and complimentary partners.

According to industry survey among both IT and financial decision makers, there's an information gap between CFO and CIO that burdens the relationship. There's been a lot said about the CFOs role as limiting factor for IT impact on the business. Therefore, transparency and speaking the same language is an important start. As CIO, how do you discuss IT strategy and vision with the CFO? How to make the inevitable IT budget "negotiation" easier?

  1. Every CFO is coming from a different perspective. The CIO must understand that perspective as the CFO is his/her customer. CFOs approve budgets, and CIOs and CFOs (arguably) approach the business differently. Whether it is an accounting project, HR, Customer Service or IT infrastructure project, the decision to invest should be made based on the greater value of the enterprise.  
  1. Innovation should be communicated in the context. Innovation needs to be business led and not technology led. When IT thinks clever tech thoughts, it's up to the IT leadership to sell the ideas to the business leaders. This is where good "biz-tech liaisons" are worth their weight to collaborate and build financially sound business cases around innovative ideas.  
  1. A CFO may want to talk purely in terms of finances and risk. They're the customer, give them what they want. Stick with ROI and risk management and quantify the proposals in terms of greater efficiency, "strategic benefit", "future proofing" and "quality of life". Summarize your view of technology futures as versus the business - inflection points, timelines and related business risk in as simple of terms as possible.  
  1. Regularly review the business basics with your CFO: budget, revenue oriented projects, board concerns, make sure all IT related contracts are clearly owned. Delegate related cost containment to procurement and the relevant product/service managers and business owners, learning from other centralized functions such as HR or finance about their budget planning as well. Communicate in terms of (internal) customer satisfaction and how it correlates with the budget. Focus projects on cost containment. Innovate on the removal of non-differentiating responsibilities. 
  1. Align as much of your budget as possible with various business, product and channel leaders. Agree their part of the IT budget and their finance/analyst if they have one. You and the business leader tag team conversations with the CFO, making it clear that the budget put forward is required to support the business leaders’ revenue forecast, budget, and strategy. This demonstrates how IT is supporting each part of the business. Ideally, these are the business leaders in support with the CIO when you sit down under the CFO's budget microscope. 
  1. Understand CFO’s ‘short term’ view with empathy, if his/her customers (BOD, shareholders, C-Level Peers) think quarterly, then he/she should (at least in part) as well.  Phase IT programs, projects and initiatives into quarterly or annual bite-sized chunks to fit into your customer's (the CFO's) horizon. But also bring up long-term thoughts & visions with business leaders including CFOS, to give them more empathy about the CIO's role and struggles. 
Either heart-to-heart chat or CFO-friendly approaches, the CIO and CFO are both strategic allies and complimentary partners. By working closely; they can transform IT from the cost center into value generator, and integrate IT into business seamlessly.

Does Analytics Talent Needs to have “Creatics” (Creativity + Analytics)?

A 'Hybrid' Mind with both Creativity and Analytics can better adapt to a Hybrid World. 
Analytics is a multi-faceted discipline
that attracts individuals from many backgrounds, with many skill-sets and psychological preferences. Some are analytical by nature (although this may cover preferences for numbers, patterns, systems or for pondering philosophical issues) while others have become analytical as part of a need or desire to broaden their capabilities or address specific issues. 

  • Creativity is multi-faceted as well. Having accepted the variations in Analytics, we must acknowledge that creativity is also a concept with many facets. Anyone can be trained to express some level of creativity since problem solving skills are a basic element of the human 'tool-kit'. The question is how does the individual best express their creativity given their innate preferences, their experience and their specific circumstances?  
  • The key is to having an open and inquiring mind to be a great analytic talent, going out of your way to both absorb input from others and explore possibilities and to develop confidence in expressing ideas. There are flashes of inspiration of significant value from individuals normally intently focused on very discrete data issues and who rarely even provide input to discussions of problems. Alternatively, there’s “stuck” moment when seasoned analytics professionals spend hours staring at a problem, unable to get beyond a simple framing of the issue despite having a track record of solving issues or improving situations. 
  • One cannot be a good analytical professional without creativity. Analysts solve problems day in day out, they need to imagine them in their contexts, imagine what can be done with the data, and possible solutions. They also need to create applications for their art, re-engineer processes and improve businesses. 
  • Almost every job needs some level of analytics and creativity in modern society. Being creative does not necessarily mean you have to be the artist, if curiosity is the soil for creativity, then; everyone could be creative in certain moment; same as analytics, it’s not the case only 'bean counters' or 'IT geeks' know how to do analytics, the secret source is to well mix both ingredients (creativity and analytics) accordingly. 
  • For effective decision support analytics, creativity is required in at least two areas: first at the computational level, and then at the visual display of results metrics. Examples of these would be the creation of graph theory based data stores and the operation on them, and a three dimensional Augmented Reality display of computational results in monographic form. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

What’s IT Role in Managing Business Analytics/Intelligence Projects?

Business Analytics/Intelligence project is at any forward-looking organizations’ top priority agenda a couple years in a row, although it’s cross-functional, collaborative effort, IT plays critical role in managing the full information life cycle and building sustainable enterprise information management architecture. More specifically, what should be accountability of IT when it comes to business analytics/business intelligence?

  1. The IT/CIO is accountable for understanding the strategic business objectives and determining the technological direction to meet the business needs. Once given the resources, for Business Intelligence, identifying and communicating the cost and value to the organization. Establishing and maintaining the control environment and communicating about those controls and what their objectives are and how they meet the business needs. 
  2. The CIO's accountability for BI extends to three areas: data collection and storage; distribution and analysis; rapid adjustment to feedback. Flexibility is critical to BI. Any rigid implementation will most likely fail. Due to its nature, BI requires adjustments at every stage without notice. That's where many BA/BI projects fail. Accountability extends in to building quality, IT continuity, and governance from the beginning and throughout the process. It means developing the IT Strategic and tactical plans including critical dependencies and assessing current performance as well as defining the information architecture. 
  1. The accountability of the CIO to be flexible also depends on the stage in the building of the entire BI lifecycle. In the initial stages, the CIO has to constantly balance the dynamic nature of introducing BI into the business along with building a sustainable Enterprise Information Management (EIM) architecture that support the information needs throughout the company. This EIM architecture covers information throughout the company (both operational and BI) and includes all governance, storage, delivery, integration and infrastructure services that support the enterprise. 

  1. The CIO is accountable for assessing operational benefits of solutions, acquisition, and once acquired, develop the strategy to bring the solution into operation, the actual implementation plan and test strategy. Once in operation developing the process for changes and communicating relevant information about the changes. The CIO is also accountable for the creation of the IT service catalog.  
  1. Simple - leading. The business may not be experienced enough to understand the possibilities, especially from an integration perspective; they certainly will not understand the needs from an architectural point of view. It's also likely that the data will funnel up to Corporate Leaders (CEO, CFO, etc) in a "dashboard" type of tool, so the CIO will need to ensure data clarity, consistency and simplicity, especially at the point of delivery. IT also needs to ensure that for core analyses of the enterprise, such as Financial, KPIs, there is "one version of the truth". 
  1. The prime responsibility of the CIO when it comes to BI is to have enabled a flexible data architecture that captures the necessary data, it is extensible, flexible, scalable and the appropriate support processes and tools are in place. Knowledge of business needs is important but many demands for data will not be known by IT or the business at any particular point in time. Those needs will change and IT must have built a data infrastructure that can adapt to those changing needs, also ensure there’re tools available for user communities to easily access, manipulate, and analyze the data.  
  1. In order to do all of this, the CIO needs their own business intelligence to monitor and evaluate IT performance and internal controls and ensure compliance with any external requirements. Then back to the beginning the planning process for review of performance and capacity of the IT resources including identifying and allocating costs in a method that is accountable of effective information lifecycle management. 

Change vs. Transformation

The World is divided, not because we look differently; but because we think differently. 

Change or Transformation is at every progressive organization's agenda, are they the same or have differences? What's leading to change or on the journey of transformation?

Mind Shift is required in transformation: The terms "transformation" and "change" truly overlap in the literal definition. Transformation is the more ambitious sounding term, in addition to the set point changing, transformation requires first shifting mindsets, then building new skills and reinforcing and embedding new practices/reflexes. We tend to need interpersonal transformation, then intra-personal transformation to achieve organizational transformation.

  • "Change" can be a somewhat mechanical implementation of new or different ways to doing something: While the transformation is more likely to be a sweeping approach to altering a culture, or parts of it, possibly even to parts of its value system, to embrace such as change and help it become self-perpetuating. When the need for significant change is identified, it's generally naive to think it will succeed without transformation as well. Interpersonal transformation is prerequisite for intrapersonal transformation.... inside-out... without experiencing the own inner space, one won’t be able to extend awareness, neither to other individuals nor to that intrapersonal space, which is not tied to a person 
  • Is Change ‘mandatory’ while transformation is nature? Simple "Change" may involve dictated behavioral modification that is not natural and/or does not fit with the person's normal mode of behavior, values, and beliefs. Being "unnatural" in this sense, it will be necessary to maintain a constant effort and vigilance to be confident that one is behaving properly and in accordance with the new rules. Mistakes and resistance may be major risks here. "Transformation" goes a step further, and involves internalization of the new values and conceptual model, so that the newly required behaviors don't require the same kind of effort and vigilance. Instead, the newly established behaviors will be in harmony with the internalized values… 
  • "Change management" is the overarching umbrella: It encompasses extensive planning, outreach, communications, discovery of concerns/objections potential points of failure, addressing fears and resistance, developing a shared vision, communicating valid and compelling reasons for cooperation, recognizing sacrifice and incremental success, measuring outcomes in a shared and mutually understood and agreed upon fashion, being able to declare an end-point and successful conclusion -- at least of a major phase -- without being disingenuous, examining what went well and what could be done better next time, etc. 
Change is more incremental while the transformation is quantum leapfrogging. Change is for adjusting the behavior while the transformation often needs to change the culture and process underneath, in order to improve the overall business agility and maturity.

To Celebrate Rosalind Franklin's Birthday: The Pioneering Scientist to Discover DNA-The Blueprint of Life

Google Doodle celebrates Rosalind Franklin’s birthday today, she was one of the pioneering scientists to discover DNA –the ‘blueprint’ of life. 
Franklin was responsible for much of the research and discovery work that led to the understanding of the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA. Between 1951 and 1953 Rosalind Franklin came very close to solving the DNA structure. When she took an x-ray diffraction image of DNA in 1952, the scientist had captured more than a second of humanity. She created an image of the building block of humans. This photo of DNA was referred to as Photo 51, the X-ray photographs of DNA Franklin took  were described as "the most beautiful X-ray photographs of any substance ever taken.".

If you’re a living creature, you’ve got DNA. But how much do you really know about the microscopic building block of life that shapes who you are? Here are seventeen things you should know about DNA

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

IT Agility vs. Strategy

Agility within and of itself is a strategy.
We all remember the old saying: culture eats strategy for lunch. Nowadays, as the speed of change is accelerated, there comes to the new saying: Agility will eat strategy every morning. Are agility and strategy mutually exclusive or they do co-exist? And what’s the best way to balance strategy and IT agility?

  1. Agility within and of itself is a strategy. Agility is not only the ability to create the change, but also the capability to adapt to the changes. Within an IT, organizational agility should be defined as the speed in which the organization can enable the enterprise's goals and objectives as IT strategy is an integral element of business strategy. Alignment within an IT organization requires visibility into IT assets and how existing or new resources can be leveraged and put into place to support the generation of products and/or services that translate into new revenue streams within the enterprise. 
  1. Agile strategy with three "C"s: The agile business isn't about not doing strategy, it's about doing strategy to follow three "C" principles: Choice, Creativity, and Cascade. The good strategy always needs to include action as part of the strategy, which means, the strategy is not just a set of documents sitting on executive's shelf, but a set of choices you made and following with a series of actions to compete for the future. From empirical perspectives, Agile strategy means that business needs to cost justify the benefits of their IT investments, adhere to corporate and external compliance requirements, design and develop systems that provide a unique proposition and add to competitive advantage, also manage risk intelligently. 
  1. Plans are worthless, but planning is everything”: It applies to IT these days. To survive and thrive in an increasingly complex and dynamic environment, businesses need an IT organization that shows a path to meet objectives while being adapting as needed because ultimately, the best route is always changing.With respect to Agile, one doesn't become agile overnight. Software projects don't shrink in scope unless the agile teams are working from a base of objects that are already aligned to the business, and provide a big part of the code base required for new projects. Putting those objects together takes a lot of time, investment and may come into being through very structured methods. A balance of strategy putting in place the building blocks and the architecture that enable you to be agile is critical. 
  1. IT planning has to be steady and adaptive while coordinating different and sometimes competing for resources. In the context of business technology, these resources are demands, capabilities, applications, technologies, risks, projects, and costs, and they are organized in portfolios. Still, many organizations keep these portfolios in silos. But they need to be managed as one that is constantly linked to the business vision and adaptable milestones. This relies on having a weekly prioritization/planning process and ongoing IT efforts to feed agile process of choice 
  1. Macro-strategy and mini-strategy: Two different strategy approaches with two different contexts, macro-strategy, and mini-strategy parcels when to deal with the strategy vs. agility issue. The annual strategy process can deal with more macro level issues - summaries of the budget, staffing changes, demonstrating business alignment with Gap/SWOT considerations. The macro level strategy may be divided up (repeated) by P&L and/or product line, whatever granularity is required by the audience and decision makers. The 'mini-strategy' or strategy "particles" are small strategy docs (briefs, guidance, snippets, fragments, wiki page, etc) to address a question, alleviate contention or provide guidance. The particles are agile, just-in-time, issue-focused and enable a group or idea to progress when it is having problems or is about to. The particles are particularly useful to create alignment and drive/communicate decisions when issues are falling between two or more groups.   
  1. Agility is the business ability to adapt to changes. Agility plays its part in the business dynamic as a measure of the enterprise's capability to assess, align, adapt and change to innovative launches, which create new avenues for revenue and the defined speed in which to capitalize upon those opportunities. When successful, the creation of market demand where none existed previously occurs. The key to that success in today's "instant access culture" is unlocked when IT and business are intrinsically linked at the hip that within and of itself will require agility is a strategy in and of itself. Without the right building blocks and strategy, you are left with a mess of tactical solutions that in the longer term hold the business back. 
  1. Strategies have to adapt to the opportunities provided by new technologies. The problems with most strategies are they are either never implemented or they are rigidly implemented resulting in opportunities that were not part of the plan being overlooked.  Lean startups learn to “pivot” and quickly alter, or perhaps completely change their course when the environment changes. How many IT organizations have missed opportunities related to digital technologies? As Peter Drucker once said, “Opportunity comes in over the transom.  Too much planning makes you deaf to opportunity.”  Sadly, too many organizations fall into this category
Agility within and of itself is a strategy while strategy should always leverage agility, they're key pillars in digital businesses.