Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Business Intelligence just got Smarter

One of the emerging trends highlighted in the Accenture Power Breakfast session was 'Closed-Loop Business Intelligence'.

I could correlate this trend with what I read yesterday on the business value of BI solutions. Typically, the BI solutions enable the business users to consolidate metrics and analyse and generate reports. The traditional BI solutions are open-ended, in the sense, it "supports" taking informed decisions. However, the end decision is left to the user himself. The BI solutions typically dont enter into that area where they recommend possible actions based on the metrics and data. So, its hard to justify a BI solution investment in a corporate unless until significant value could be earned out of it.

So far, there was no channel available to realize the business results. Now, its becoming a reality.
The vision for closed-loop business intelligence is to not only just analyse the metrics, but also 'recommend' suitable actions to the business user that would improve the overall business results...Sounds interesting!

Am just curious to know which BI vendor will be first in the industry to offer these smarter BI solutions.

Do you see a trend where all the individual domains of business applications are slowly converging and morphing themselves to be much more smart and adaptive?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Technology Adoption

I attended a breakfast meeting organized by IASA bangalore chapter with Accenture Chief Technology Architect.

First I should appreciate the IASA team for organizing such events for the Architects community in India.

The key Take Away from the meeting is that - There are plenty of innovations happening in the industry. All we need to do, as System Integrators, is pushing for Adoption. Adoption is the key and the need for the hour for the businesses. I couldn't agree more to this.

The thoughts that triggered to me on this statement

- How can an Architect play the role of a 'Change Agent' in evangelizing the adoption?
- What are the key challenges that are being faced by the businesses in going for adoption?

The result and the single answer is 'Have Enterprise Architecture Govern your enterprise IT'.

Monday, August 20, 2007

SaaS being Safe

There are always apprehensions about data security in a SaaS model. These apprehensions were holding the enterprises to move their business critical information to a SaaS model software.

Recently I read a very good example in Economist that relates to this fear. Remember, when the locker systems were introduced in the banks decades ago, people were reluctant to keep their money in lockers. But then, slowly things got changed and now people think that bank lockers are much more safer than their own house to keep their valuables.

Am sure in the next couple of years, this trend will begin to be visible in SaaS segment as well..

In banks case, probably one thing that has reassured people about the safety of their valuables is 'Government Regulation'. Similarly, I think we may need some kind of 'Industry regulation controls' across SaaS vendors to ensure data security.

[22 Aug 07] Today in the IASA meeting, I learned that organizations are already practicing SOX compliance when adapting SaaS model. So the regulatory requirement is already in place.

Align Your Business based on IT

All long, we have been hearing that align your IT to business. Sounds good..The whole objective of enterprise architecture is to create better alignment between IT and business.

But, the problem is - IT space is always more active. And its supply of products and technologies happen in a much more faster pace than the changes/initiatives that happen in the business space. So, How do we create an alignment when the supply is more than the demand?

Recently, I read a management article which articulates that the existing organization structure/processes and best practices may need to undergo "changes" if it has to accomodate and leverage the introduction of a new technology. Absolutely agree!.

For example, the web 2.0 suite of technologies cannot be simply deployed into an enterprise and made it successful. To make web 2.0 technologies successful, the org. culture has to change and accomodate the technology. If the org. culture changes, may be it will lead to better collaboration and yield better results in business performance.

Same applies for other new range of technologies as well...

So, align your business based on IT capabilities, if you really believe that IT could transform the business..

I was thinking that IT will only be glorified and shining in industries like Banking and Insurance. No, its not the case. Any industry can leverage IT and IT can be differentiator for any sector. It all matters on how IT is managed and bridged with the business. If IT house is seen only as a enabler/supplier, then the maximum potential of IT will not be utilized.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Application X-Ray

Is it possible to scan the existing IT solutions for their underlying business processes and tune them for optimization, perform gap analysis or improve them for gaps, innovate for new services?

For a new business process modeling, there are tons of tools exist for designing and analysis.
How about for existing IT apps which embodies business processes?.

Often, the IT solutions which are old for sometime are taken for granted. And the only thing that is worried about is their performance, availability, etc...which are non-functional in nature.

How do even look at the underlying business processes for improvement and innovations?.
Who knows the kind of potential that the business process has, if it's innovated to a new channel or new platform. These solutions might have been architected/designed a decade before and still undergoing regular support.

Unless until, the processes are understood, the application potential remains untapped...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Hype is Good

Last Friday, our MD was addressing an Open House meeting...

One of the interesting news that he brought out was - our CEO has asked every functional head such as Sales, Marketing, and other LOBs to present their thoughts and proposals within their division for leveraging Web 2.0 technologies.

Am surprised that web 2.0 has got the attention of the CEO.

Though personally I dont believe in those 'technologies' (pls dont get me wrong here..I believe in underlying concepts though), in an enterprise context, I am happy that some technology is disruptive enough to get the attention of senior leadership to even talk about it and act on it...

So, all the Hype is Good

Hyperactive Market

I was talking to my brother-in-law who is running his own business for the past 20 years or so..

Got an interesting insight while talking to him...Those days, the focus of the business was on reducing the operational expenses, reducing the profit margin and focusing on Customer delight. But, these days, the focus is more on operational expenses (expenses like marketing, branding, expensive showrooms) and increased sales. In olden days, businessmen were not really thinking about increased sales and growth year-on-year. But, its apparant that, these days, any business has to be a growth business, for it to survive. Do you read the lines from the book 'Goal' here?

And there is a mad rush from every business house to achieve that double-digit growth year after year...

My question is, if every business grows "big" enough, where will the space for small and medium enterprises to sustain?. Are we doing justice to nurture a business ecosystem, where all players have a fair chance to play the game?. Or are we restricting the market open enough only for big players?.

The outcome will be increased costs, less number of choices. There has to be some way... I dont know the perfect solution.

But, the optimal solution for big as well as small players would be 'Innovation'. For big players to grow on certain targets year after year, and for small players to survive on their key strengths, its required to 'innovate' and 'innovate niche' that other players would find difficult to replicate.

I think we will reach a point where it would be 'Innovate or Die'.

In summary, Business is getting tough but interesting...

Applications with "Presence of Mind"

Scanning the next set of emerging technologies in the industry, it looks like its going to be 'Adaptive' technologies that would make the applications to have presence of mind. Interesting isn't it?

Moving from to 'Being Agile' to 'Being Adaptive'. The boundaries are always stretched...

If not intelligence, the applications should be able to 'learn', 'predict' and 'auto-correct' on its life-cycle. It surely sounds a natural progression...Already, the vendors have started providing solutions that would enable apps to behave in a adaptive manner.

For example, The traditional rule systems have morphed themselves into 'Enterprise Decision Management' System. All the other suite of technologies such as Complex Event Processing, Business Activitiy Monitoring, Serivce-oriented Business Intelligence started to fuse the application with Intelligence. And thats going to roll-out a new set of solutions in the market very soon..

Already some smart customers have started using some of those technologies...

While seeing the pace of the technology advancement, I tend to think that the speed of technology offerings sometimes outpaces the speed of business..and enables a whole new suite of opportunities...

Is the Business ready for it?