23 March 2007

System Integration 2.0?

Allot has been said this past year on the topic Web 2.0 (and already even 3.0) and its impact on our social interaction and of course also our ways of working. Enterprise 2.0 is a beautiful term used to describe all new relevant business methodologies in this new ‘era’. An interesting list of Enterprise 2.0 tools can be found on the Dutch website on digital trends Frankiswatching.com. However, what will this all mean when it comes to System Integration?

Things are of course developing at lightning speeds. For instance on the topic of Web 2.0 techniques you would now tend to think to use
AJAX to build very interactive web applications which are much more responsive to the user. This is done by exchanging small amounts of data with the web server behind the scenes, so that the entire web page does not have to be reloaded each time the user requests a change. But while wide adoption of AJAX has only yet begun, there is already a successor in the from of “streaming AJAX” or “Comet”. This very interesting programming technique enables web servers to send data to the client without having any need for the client to request it (easy to read Dutch article on Comet). Very useful to really push information into a browser, so think along the lines of dynamic dashboards, event-driven web applications, alerting, etc.

Using Comet technology, real-time information of the available stock positions can for instance be pushed when updated from a Warehouse Management System right into a browser, feeding a well-organized dashboard with current live data. Operational Business Intelligence in its full glory! Or Business Intelligence 2.0 if you will.

System Integration 2.0 could then on the other hand well become a browser based platform to access all structured data from enterprise applications as well as unstructured data from file systems, emails, etc. Using a powerful search engine that understands the semantics and context of your data inside your business applications, you will be able to quickly find all relevant information using your own company information portal. Because of the semantics, information from an order will directly be linked to the relevant customer. Also the order itself will contain order lines, which in their turn are linked to an item, etc. The underlying semantic model therefore creates true system-independent intelligence which crosses any and all system boundaries where needed.

It will also become technically much more easy to integrate the underlying applications and databases.
SOAP protocols and Web Services already provide many possibilities to create quick mashups (some Dutch examples, based on Google Maps). A mashup is defined by Wikipedia as a website or application that combines content from more than one source into an integrated experience. Just the thing we aim for as a system integrator.

Employees will also be more enabled to change the way data is displayed and manipulate and use this information. Using Wikis to truly collaborate in the creation of relevant reports, content, etc. Integrated blog functionality will enable quick, traceable and interactive commenting, including the tagging of data. So no longer Post-Its and unreadable handwriting, like currently on those reports with non-actual data being sent around for review. However joint action lists like 37signals' Basecamp implemented and the possibility to easily subscribe to alerts via email, RSS and SMS on objects in the underlying back-office systems.

Ohh and before I forget... All the above of course using the most beautiful Service Oriented Architecture you can imagine! ;-) Now doesn't that sounds like something which could be called System Integration 2.0?

12 March 2007

What is Service Oriented Architecture SOA?

In two months time our company will be present on the big TINE trade show (Amsterdam RAI, 8-10 May 2007). TINE is the Dutch national ICT-platform, and our booth will be in Topix 14: System Integration. Of course we would like to invite all blog readers to visit us on this show, but this post is actually regarding a different subject. It is however because I came across something on the TINE website: Some excellent YouTube material to explain in layman's terms what Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is all about. Very simple, yet very effective.

The first one explains the SOA concept very creatively by means of musical notes:

You might also want to check the other two videos: wardrobe and building blocks.

Want to know more on Service Oriented Architecture as it relates to Operational Business Intelligence? Then visit our booth on the TINE in May or contact us now.

01 March 2007

Business Intelligence #1 priority CIOs

Just like 2006, market research firm Gartner cited BI as a top agenda item for CIOs in 2007. For the second year in a row Business Intelligence tools emerged as the number one technology priority in Gartner's annual survey of 1.400 CIO's worldwide. Predicting a 10,5% growth of the business intelligence market in 2007.

"CIOs will need to concentrate on information as a leverage point to enhance efficiency, increase effectiveness and support competitiveness," said Mark McDonald, group vice president and head of research for Gartner EXP. "This also corresponds to the continued importance of business intelligence in 2007. As such, CIOs will continue to be responsible for IT — the mechanism. They can further play a greater role in leveraging information — the understanding that drives performance and innovation."

CIOs can create enterprise leverage when a focused effort produces significant results for the enterprise and its strategy. This means that CIOs need to exploit new approaches to transform the business. One of the sources of enterprise leverage CIOs can draw on is information: Gaining the business insight and understanding required to act in a changing environment. Only 36 percent (!) of CIOs believe that management is using the right information to run the business.

And then what about non-management? The people that run the operational business? Do they have easy access to all the right and up-to-date information? If the knowledge workers within your company are bogged down, hunting and gathering information, then the whole company could be bogged down.

Do you feel poor information management or access is limiting your organization in driving true business effectiveness and innovation? Then drop a line...

19 February 2007

Intelligent leadership

It might be an open door, but organizational success doesn’t happen by just implementing an automation tool. Instead it’s excellent leadership that makes the difference. The difference in retaining your key people, the difference in your business' performance, the difference in being a true innovator, the difference in cost of stress related sickness absence.

A month ago I read a posting on the Leadership Blog that poor leadership is costing UK business a whopping £6+ Billion per year. This was based on a study commissioned by Ros Taylor Ltd, a leading firm of Chartered Psychologists. They asked over 1500 people from different sized organisations throughout the UK about leadership in the work place. Their key findings in numbers:

Only 8% of people think their boss is inspirational. On the other hand 89% said their boss lacks innovation and 77% feels that their boss was not interested in them (!). Furthermore, 9 out of 10 people said their boss does nothing about poor performers and 79 percent claim their boss does not set clear objectives.

I particularly liked the following quote: “While companies are spending millions on automation and the new IT architectures they could be spending thousands and saving millions by sharpening up their leadership assets.”

So business leaders apparently fail across the board at setting clear objectives, motivating staff and weeding out poor performers. An excellent book on the topic of motivating staff is First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman. Need a quick refresher on First, Break All the Rules?

Setting clear objectives and weeding out poor performers is were BI can offer assistance with measurable targets, tracking KPI's, etc. OK, there is indeed only so much Operational BI as a tool can do. However Operational Business Intelligence IS able to give some excellent real-time analytical support to the inspirational captains of our industries AND their staff. Also freeing up time for regular 1-on-1’s, creative brainstorm sessions, and of course plain old fun.

17 January 2007

Loosing a quarter of your time?

A recent Accenture study revealed: Middle managers spend more than a quarter of their time searching for information necessary to their jobs. And when they do find it, it is often wrong!
This is completely in line with a report from the Butler Group already discussed in a previous post The business value of Operational Intelligence. They also concluded a typical 'knowledge worker' spends 2 hours a day searching for information. So things are in line here...

Pfff... Isn't this shocking when you think of this? Especially considering the over a trillion dollars spent each year globally on IT, aimed at improving efficiency, saving costs, enabling growth, etc. So what about now really enabling your staff to concentrate on what they do best and helping them to navigate this rapidly expanding sea of information?

Now Accenture furthermore also mentions:

  • Three out of five managers miss information that might be valuable to their jobs because it exists somewhere else in the company and they just can not find it.
  • Two out of five managers accidentally use the wrong information at least once a week.
  • Over half the managers feel that less than half of the information they receive is valuable.
  • Three out of five managers claim that having to go to numerous data sources to compile information is a difficult aspect of managing information for their jobs.
  • Almost two out of five managers feels that there is so much information available that it takes a long time to actually find the right piece of data.
And there's even much more! Combined with the ever increasing amount of gathered and stored information, it's not strange to find out that for instance 40 percent of customer service managers said that the most difficult aspect of managing information for their job is going to numerous sources of information.

So how's this then for a value proposition?
Operational Intelligence: helping you save valuable time and free up the hours currently wasted every day by tracking down relevant information for your job.

29 December 2006

Operational Intelligence vs. Operations Intelligence vs. Operational BI vs. ... ?

In my previous post Operational Intelligence augments Business Intelligence, I referenced to an article by AMR Research on the topic of what they call Operations Intelligence instead of the Operational Intelligence I find better suited. Apparently one of their readers agreed and sent in a letter regarding this.

The Intelligententerprise.com prefers to call it Operational BI in their 7th annual BI Megatrends report. A term I like allot too I must admit, but more because of the commercial value then because of it's descriptive essence.

Also IT analyst IDC uses the term Operational BI frequently. Ventana Research uses the same Operational Intelligence I personally also prefer and our company uses in all MarComms and on our website. This term is also defined on Wikipedia, even though I think their definition could be improved upon.

So which term do you prefer? What words do you use when searching the web for related information or explaining the technology to a colleague?

20 December 2006

Think Different

Here's a small test for you:

First, see Apple's commercial on innovation on YouTube.

Secondly, ask yourself a few questions: Are you a true innovator? Do you lead or follow? Do you think out of the box? Are you a crazy one?

Thirdly, act now! That is if you answered positivily above and are lacking insight into your companies operational performance. Challenge yourself and challenge your OI or BI supplier.

Think different! That is, if you're up to it...