Florian Krueger

Human 2 Data & Data 2 Human

In 2.0, IT, Management, The Future on September 10, 2015 at 12:18 pm

The Big Data/Business Intelligence Conundrum needs to be solved before the IoT takes off


Chicken and Egg, or is it? Clearly the Human was first, but does Data care? Nah, data thinks it can isolate itself and outlive humans by staying inaccessible. Has AI arrived without us realising? Is our way of live under threat?

Funny thoughts this morning, but there is a serious challenge the way I see it and the challenge is how to figure out how to make smarter –data based- decisions in the future.

Information wins, or does it?

I’m not saying you should, but if you think of business as war and you like brainy quotes, look at some of what Sun Tzu has said 2500 years ago:

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”

“If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.”

“He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.”

All of this suggests that you better know exactly what you are doing and you have all information readily available and made accessible, but you don’t have to be a die-hard strategist to see the value of data/information segmented in manageable, relevant chunks. Many smart people have seen the problem arising. Gertrude Stein for example said almost 70 years ago:

Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” T.S. Elliott puts it more philosophically, when he reflects: Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

All these quotes suggest that Information is and always has been out there and probably more information than can be easily consumed.

Because of the vast amount of information, people are getting scared and revert back to old habits that they feel comfortable with, meaning they make decisions based on Gut-Feel rather than on connecting various data-points. This can be fatal. In most cases it is as bad as someone suspecting a problem to be existential, but not going to the doctor.

You have a problem and you ignore it by not talking about it and relying on your gut feeling and instincts to work it out. Guess what: You won’t.

A Possible Approach

We –collectively- need to find ways of how to distil down information, make it consumable and package it in bite-size chunks, so that we don’t feel overwhelmed, but informed. Big Data is progressing with lightning speed and there is no end in sight. The challenge will get bigger not smaller. The Internet-of-Things is very, very close and will give Big-Data another boost. Information availability and reusability is already the basis for many new and coming businesses.

Because of this, innovation and other business cycles have gotten significantly shorter and most business has gone global with better-informed customers. Customers with higher expectations than ever before and with the ability to instantly validate what you are suggesting. You cannot outsmart the masses, but here is what you can do:

Look at your problem à Look at your desired outcome à Decide the components of success à Research the data and try and keep it 3C (Current, correct and complete) by assigning responsibility and KPI’s à Design a Data2Human interface that explains to you a maximum of 7 key points in a highly visual format à Educate and Train à Manage the Change

The real challenge here is that designing the Data2Human interface is not something that typically resides within an organisation as a core capability. Also there are a number of challenges along the way, before you even get to that point and they are always the same:

  • How do you find the data?
  • How do you validate the data?
  • How can you use tools that you already have and integrate with your future reporting dashboards?
  • How can you set alarms, identify trends, benchmark your performance, etc.?
  • How can you distinguish between different viewers and contributors?
  • Do you foster open collaboration, or do you need to keep information secure?

Where do we go from here?

Vendors of strategy solutions traditionally have answered some of the questions above. They have been looking at it from an architecture perspective, tried to put blueprints in place, or segmented information into portfolios to make it easier to manage. Few have succeeded.

In many cases they haven’t succeeded because the problem is not a technical one. It is a very human problem. It is about the fear of change, it is about the fear of the unknown and it is about reluctance to change and the preference to stay with the status quo.

But the good news is that there are now tools and techniques that have been developed over the past 2-6 years that can interpret information and can genuinely support that change. Also, companies have learned about this soft side and the implementation of such tools and the supporting communication has genuinely improved.

Companies, such as IntentHQ put AI into social intelligence and make sense of big data for the first time, to support decision makers in marketing and general management, EnergyDeck allows to understand trends and set alerts to create sustainable strategies for Facility Managers and companies, again based in IoT-ready Big Data. Firms such as StrategyBlocks, now allow you to put everything into perspective for the first time and service providers start to understand more and more about managing the soft side.

But first things first: If you as an organisation feel overwhelmed, go through the simple steps above and try to focus on the relevant information. Use common sense and the Pareto principle to get started and then look at tools that make your life easier, as they store data and maintain the right level of accuracy to foster change and to support innovation.

More and more data and information at an ever-faster pace will create an exciting new world and we are starting to getting a handle on Data, but always remember: We were there first!


HAL 9000 over and out…..

The (un-)negotiable value of IT

In Common Sense, IT, Management on November 26, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Have a laugh. Have everyone around you define the value of IT in one sentence. I mean it, do it and do it now. This is just too funny to be missed.

The answers I got so far are:
– What’s the question?
– 42
– I’ve been searching for that for all my life
– Whatever I tell you it is…
and so on and so on.

And just so we are clear, I did not ask the average Joe down my local Pub, but I’ve asked people I trust, people that are typically capable of formulating a thought that is related to the IT in general and are all together earning their money in the IT space. I’ve asked around our offices within the CIC (Cambridge Innovation Center) a place that screams IT and screams brainpower… right I’m the exception here ;-)…

Sadly, my findings where exactly the same as with the vast majority of most clients and prospects, namely CIO’s and Enterprise Architects etc. of the Fortune 2000’s of this world. There is a huge hole in the understanding of what it is that the IT actually contributes in terms of measurable value. How can this be the case after so many years of building systems and measuring the slightest deviances in all possible scenarios across a wide range of KPI’s etc.?

Now – did it get easier over the past years to define the value by looking at bundling information into application portfolios, or service-oriented architecture landscapes?
Did the “Business” get any better in describing what it wants?
Could cloud-based solution-models help people to communicate and collaborate in a new way and therefore eliminating the need of defining the value of IT, because the perception has changed? (And what on earth are they anyway and who gets to call something cloud-based? ROFL)
I don’t think so.

Net of the matter is: Stuff gets more and more complex and consequently complicated and the missing links between the business and the IT are still not the exception, but vice versa.
This is one of the many reasons, why the value of IT has not been agreed upon, or valid suggestions have been made in terms of defining a way how to measure the same.

But, you will never see the light of that day, where I introduce a problem without presenting at least an idea for a solution and yes, again you are right this has to do with self promotion. 😉

IMHO there are three important building blocks for measuring the value:

1. Quantitative Value, consisting of
a. The change in operational expenditures aka OPEX (does it become more, or less expensive to keep the lights on?)
b. The effect, or impact that your CAPEX, or capital expenditures have and the resulting impact on OPEX
2. The Qualitative Value, meaning
a. Degree of Automation
b. Process Maturity
c. Applied Compliance and Security Management
d. Incorporation of Innovation and Change Management Best-Practices
e. Internal and external Level of Satisfaction
3. The Return on any Investment

The Quantitative and the Qualitative Value are only in so far depending on one another, as they depict the overall maturity of an organization in terms of its Business-IT-Management capability. The ROI is detached and simply describes the value as an asset which is, or is not becoming profitable.

To apply this approach one needs to do three things:

1. Conduct an assessment of one’s trailing OPEX and CAPEX over the past years and the reasons for its development / internal skills to manage it
2. An assessment of the state of the IT in the 8 different domains, which are
a. Transparency
b. Road-Mapping
c. Consolidation
d. Business Orientation
e. Governance
f. Program Portfolio Management
g. Finance Management
h. Strategy Alignment
3. An assessment of the planned investments and the projected ROI

I have consulted on this matter extensively and I don’t claim to have the keys to the castle, but I have not seen someone combining these different thoughts, to come up with one solid statement, like:

The value of our IT during the next year is 12.87% of the EBITDA and any percent of failure equals a 4.1% reduction of the above, which means that the planned 3.7 Billion investments on XYZ are a wise choice.

Buzz Alarm – Hype Notice – Social CRM – Truth or Fiction?

In 2.0, CRM, Management on October 30, 2009 at 9:21 pm

First of all THANKS. Thanks to the SugarCRM guys and Larry Augustin, for hosting an open-source-community event and for inviting people with real nice catering and the lot, at a time where many old-school companies wouldn’t even want to pay for a cup of coffee.

Larry Augustin & Florian Krueger

Well, hang on – maybe it is not despite the fact that SugarCRM has an open-source community -that they can afford things like that- but because of it? Maybe open-source is simply the model of the future?
I’m convinced that this is the case. IP is no property any longer, but a commodity, same as information and air. Restrictions on IP are ridiculous. Innovation combined with flexibility and the ability to implement changes will be the differentiators between failure and success in the future.
Well now the chief concern officers will say, how can you innovate, if you are lacking the funding which was formerly generated by selling your IP?

Obviously you can’t. At least you can’t in the traditional way. You need to rethink and reinvent your business model.

Why? Because you are already making less profit and profits will go down furthermore. Funding is not always clear, but as innovation is more and more outsourced to the customers, or the communities which you operate, manage or contribute to, the entire business model is shifting. A company which has earned money before through, say subscriptions might find itself managing communities of people that share some interests. Obviously this will again not only change the revenue stream, or the value chain, this will force the company to reinvent itself.

All right now Florian, all this and not one word on social CRM? Wroooong…. All this was on social CRM, or whatever you want to call it. Social CRM, CRM2.0, or Social Media Management in the context with customer relations is all about the dear old Trinity of People, Processes and Technology – with one slight difference: People are now really in the beginning and everywhere until the end. Processes don’t need to be described only, or automated. Processes need to be so sophisticated that they can self adjust through the right measure of real-time web applications or other sophisticated BI tools. Without -as SugarCRM calls them- “Cloudconnectors” a CRM is not worth the energy required for switching the server on. Other than that, Technology can do what you can dream. Therefore the only question is: can you still dream?

…and the reality is, Processes need to support people in a holistic, immediate, proactive and such a wonderful way that your customers will stick with you. Then it’s not about what you are charging anymore, but about what kind of feeling and emotions your company is able to transport and to co-create.
This is something you can only influence when you see the full picture. People long for business friendships, they long for someone who knows them and with whom they can share their thoughts. Without the ability to dig into the networks and to establish that social competence, a CRM looses any right to exist. It can support your old school model for a couple of years, but due to its misconception, it will lead you down a road without return. When you wake up, you will look around and notice that you have slept one year too long.

I can’t tell you how curious I am, how this thinking will be adopted by the average CEO, who either is a lawyer, chemist, mathematician or has a degree in engineering. This has nothing to do with clear, well defined processes anymore. It must be comparable to the experience one has when he steps out of his Maybach and now has to win a bull-riding competition. SocialCRM IMHO is just the dawning of a new set of integrated tools forming Mash-Ups in the Cloud and helping us, as customers to manage ourselves. We will find the products we are interested in and we as customers will judge and decide whom we want to deal with. It is the ultimate democracy and Graham Hill was right comparing it in its importance with the era of enlightenment itself.

So to conclude, this is a first glimpse at the future therefore it is fiction, but it is so close to becoming reality that you can call it truth.
To be continued…