Florian Krueger

Archive for the ‘IT’ Category

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

Intro

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.

Being a CIO During a Recession

In IT on July 10, 2009 at 8:54 am

At a recent nGenera Insight dinner Professor Michael Earl of Oxford University opened the discussion by reflecting that nobody seems to be confident about making predictions about the national or local economy at present. His own instinct, based on observations in the UK and North America, discussions with the financial community and experience of past downturns, was that recovery was likely to be slow and relatively distant. He posited that there are four different – and not mutually exclusive – generic strategies for CIOs in coping with these difficult times: two on the supply side of IT and two on the demand side.

One is cost management, such as adopting budget cuts, headcount restrictions and pursuing technology procurement savings. A second is re-engineering, for example revisiting sourcing strategies, re-balancing IT skills and re-architecting IT platforms.

On the demand side is re-calibrating the applications development portfolio, for example focusing on mandatory and quick payback projects, or improving MIS and financial control systems. Finally, there is preparing for the upturn – probably in a smart and low profile way.

It was agreed that while there are sector-specific and even firm-specific variations, most IT functions are embracing cost management actions, especially budget cuts. Also several are looking at re-engineering, especially sourcing strategies alongside the pursuit of better deals with all types of vendor.

Re-calibrating applications projects too is happening, particularly ranking projects under capital rationing. Preparing for the upturn, however, is more difficult, especially given current uncertainties. Perhaps at this stage it is more a question of thinking or anticipating what would be ‘cool’ projects in terms of competitive advantage once green shoots of some vigour appeared, rather than initiating a new project now.

However, whether addressing supply-side options or demand-side options, one critical success factor is clear. IT decisions still have to be made with the business and so strong relationships between the CIO and the CIO’s team with other senior executives still must be developed and nurtured. And perhaps the climate for such partnership is getting easier as more and more business leaders do realise that IT underpins most business operations and management processes today. In other words, there is a real chance that mature decisions about how IT can respond to downturn are being made.

If you would like to comment on Professor Earl’s perspective or continue the conversation please send me an email at florian@floriankrueger.com and I will keep you in the loop.

Ok, so I am a German and nothing in Deutsch?

In 2.0, Common Sense, IT on July 2, 2009 at 6:32 pm

Falsch, natuerlich lasse ich es mir nicht entgehen auch meinen Senf auf deutsch dazuzugeben. Immerhin beschraenkt sich das Blog ja nicht auf meinen Wohnort und der ist momentan ohnehin im Flieger.

Was treibt mich um und warum ist das was ich schreibe fuer den Leser potentiell relevant? Well, gar nicht, wenn der Leser kein CEO, CIO, COO, CTO, oder sonstwie im gehobenen Management ist, weil ich es selbst bei groesster Selbstbeherrschung nicht schaffe beim Bullshit Bingo nicht mitzuspielen.

Der Bereich in dem ich micht bewege liegt irgendwo im nirgendwo, naemlich genau zwischen dem “Business” und der “IT”. Auf der einen Seite haben wir CEO’s, welche der Meinung sind, dass heute technisch ohnehin alles moeglich ist und die auch nicht davor zurueckschrecken, den Scope nach 50% der Projeklaufzeit um 180 Grad zu drehen und auf der anderen Seite haben wir CIO’s, welche nach einer erfolgreichen 20-jaehrigen Laufbahn in der IT und deren Management wissen, dass Sie ohnehin die besseren CEO’s waeren und die Notwendigkeiten des “Business” viel besser beurteilen koennen, als ebendiese…

Das lieber Leser, ist ein Problem von dem ich glaube, dass es so alt ist wie die Menschheit selbst. Fremdbild und Selbstbild sind seltenst 100% identisch und koennen es auch nicht sein. Ich denke der Weise erkennt seine Fehler und laesst sich helfen. Hilfe muss auch nicht immer von einem Berater wie mir kommen, oftmals reichen Freunde (Keine Freibiergesichter, sondern FREUNDE), oder noch besser Familie vollkommen aus.

Ich habe mir mal den Spass gemacht letztes Jahr ein sogenanntes “Common Sense Reference Model” zu basteln, in welchem bei saemtlichen Entscheidungsprozesses auf bestehende Faehigkeiten und gesunden Menschenverstand referenziert wird. Sie wuerden sich wundern, wie viel man damit hinbekommt.

Das zweite grosse Thema was mich seit mehreren Jahren umtreibt, ist das Thema Nachhaltigkeit, oder “Sustainability”. Nachhaltigkeit im planerischen Sinne darf sich keinstenfalls auf oekologische Aspekte reduzieren, sondern muss oekonomische und soziale Themen gleichwertig mitbehandeln. Die Tatsache, dass keine Firma, welche mir bisher ueber den Weg gelaufen ist, wirklich ein allumfassendes Nachhaltigkeitsprogramm zum Leben erweckt hat, stimmt mich traurig und erklaert in meinen Augen zu einem grossen Teil, wieso die Wirtschaft da ist wo sie ist.

Wer mich kennt hat’s schon oft gehoert: Wir in Europa, sind die Einzigen, welche eine reiche Geschichte besitzen und die Faehigkeit,sowie die Erlaubnis haben, diese zu reflektieren. Daraus sind tolle Sachen entstanden, wie die Aufklaerung, oder die Demokratie, um nur zwei Besipiele zu nennen. Daraus wiederum resultiert die Verantwortung, aus dieser Geschichte Lehren zu ziehen und das Gelernte umzusetzen. Ausser schoenen Worten habe ich bisher noch nicht viel gesehen. Wer mich davon ueberzeugt, dass seine Firma anders ist, hat die Wahl zwischen meinen drei Lieblingsgerichten: Kaesefondue, Spanferkelbraten, oder Haeggis… Pick one und danke fuers Lesen…

Ihr Florian Krueger

Does the Recession make Horizontal Integration more Imperative?

In IT on July 2, 2009 at 5:38 pm

When business gurus like Don Tapscott (author of The Naked Corporation, Wikinomics and Grown Up Digital) say that “a recession is too good to waste” what do they mean? When the focus is on a shrinking order book and the need to reduce cost it’s often difficult to see what opportunities a recession offers. But one thing a recession definitely creates is a new context. A new context enables us to see things differently and open up new possibilities that previously were not thought feasible. It creates opportunities to make changes where change is most needed, and prepares our business for when we get back to managing growth — the next new context.

One such opportunity is to give more focus to ‘horizontal‘ integration. For all the good work that has been done over the years through process reengineering and implementation of enterprise systems, the reality is that most organisations remain siloed. In many corporations their divisions and business units operate largely autonomously with little or no sharing of processes, systems or solutions. Yet today’s customers expect the introduction of faultless new products, rapid order fulfilment and responsive customer service. They do not care — nor should they need to — about how their supplier is organised internally. Even if the functional silos are operating efficiently and meeting their Key Performance Indicators, it is the performance of the cross-functional processes that ultimately determines the customer experience.

The approach of many organisations to horizontal integration has been to create back-office shared service centres that provide a range of ‘services’ to customer-facing business units. Some of these have worked exceptionally well, but many less so because they have not addressed the fundamental problem of diversity. It is impossible for a shared service centre to provide ever-increasing superior service at lower cost if the ‘requirements’ of its customers are so diverse. Equally, the argument should not be for total standardisation, and one size does not fit all. The goal should be a greater degree of common and shared solutions, business processes and systems whilst recognising the need for authentic differences. The key words are authentic differences, and not differences that have evolved over time with no benefit to the customer.

Our colleague Robert Morison, and his thought partners James Cash and Michael Earl, argue in their HBR article Teaming Up to Crack Innovation and Enterprise Integration the need for Enterprise Integration Groups (EIGs) whose role is to establish the architecture and management practices essential for business integration. Furthermore they make the case that the EIG should:

  • Manage the corporate portfolio of integration initiatives
  • Serve as the corporation’s centre of expertise in process management and improvement
  • Provide staff to major business integration initiatives
  • Be responsible for enterprise architecture
  • Anticipate how operations might work in a more integrated fashion in the future

Whether the creation of an Enterprise Integration Group is the best approach for your organisation or not, one thing is for certain, there are significant benefits to be gained from driving for greater horizontal integration. The question is has the recession created the context to do so?

You can comment on this article or ask a question on the nGenera Community.

You can download a copy of the Harvard Business Review article Teaming Up to Crack Innovation and Enterprise Integration from our website.