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To be or not to be… resistant!

Being resistant to IT is often due to lack of knowledge and/or to security and privacy concerns. Talk about technology adoption and you will likely generate a debate around data ownership, location, security, etc.

However, the question today is no longer about the value added by each one of IT trends, but how to combine them to create more value. Technology is shaping businesses and operating models like it never did before.

Take the insurance industry as an example:

“A full transformation to becoming a digital company could cut an insurer’s combined ratio by 21 percentage points, in other words making the firm more profitable. Expenses could fall by 10 percent of premiums and claims by 8 percent. The insurance industry is in danger of falling behind other companies because it is not interested in the latest digital technology”. (Insurance industry drags feet on big data)

Security and privacy

Companies are particularly concerned about data security (a valid one I must add), which should not, however, be taken to the extreme. Too much protection makes it nearly impossible to access data outside of the premisses, and consequently, it limits the potential business benefit that can be derived.

The key question is not how secure the data is, but how much it will help people and organisations. It’s all about agility, usability and speed of accessing the information and USING that information.

Take for example the flexibility of scaling up or down businesses via mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Integrating IT assets is much simpler, faster and cheaper if solutions are protected but accessible.

Available data for companies to work with also enables better decisions. Strategic Analytics is not only about data mining but, more importantly, about data interpretation. Careful though:

Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.” (Albert Einstein)

Numbers and analysis used for strategic decision-making depend very much on the models and algorithms created by organisations. Decision makers should not blindly trust the data given by analytics as this is information spit out by an algorithm; instead they must look at that information and put it into context. This human intervention combined with long-term data driven models, gives managers a better view about patterns and trends, and hence are often better predictors. After all, if the end-question is budget definition, it is not enough to look at the previous month’s data but rather to a longer period of data, right?

There is a great potential here. Creativity is now key to foresee challenges even before they happen, and not just to use the data available to resolve existing business questions as it was once.

Organisations need to be mindful of their needs when assessing IT readiness. Successful adoption of technology is part of a mission that implies having clearly defined goals and strategy and lower the barriers of resistance.

Being aware and being resistant are two different concepts. Which one prevails in your organisation?

Feel free to send me feedback via email or connect through Twitter, or the website

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Undoubtedly

Previously, I wrote about Business and IT Alignment and what it means for future managers.

Getting both aligned is a very complex task with too many variables to be considered (just ask to a couple of colleagues around you, and see if you can get to any consensus!). And yet, answering the question can be such a game changer for organisations. Biotech start-ups are good examples with smaller players challenging well established “giants” by linking technology to their businesses. Other examples can be found in the banking industry where banks are actually competing with tech companies such as Google (Wallet), Apple (Pay), Paypal, and so many others.

Adopting technology comes with opportunities and risks to organisations and their businesses. Data readiness and user experience among others, are commonly referred to as opportunities; whereas governance, talent and knowledge are typically considered as challenges.

What about costs?

In the context of a conversation I had recently about technology trends, a friend mentioned that the company she works for is deploying some of their systems onto the cloud because it’s undoubtedly cheaper. My next reaction was to ask her what does “undoubtedly cheaper” mean?

The Margin Value Theories (Jevons, 1985) states that the cheaper a particular commodity gets, the more applications people will find for it. As a result, its consumption increases, leading individuals to spend their savings on it. Today, Jevons paradox still holds true for technology. For example, as far as cloud computing is concerned, perhaps it is cheaper to run cloud-based solutions rather than to have the same technology in-house. However, with more options, the savings generated – and often greater amounts – are spent on new applications, services, and complimentary technologies.

Undoubtedly, there are too many benefits to be gained from adopting technology, most of them unknown by the time a business case is put forward and the implementation begins. A Forrester’s survey showed that 49% of their respondents looking at private clouds to reduce costs, found agility for development and testing the top benefits they would get (84%).

However, hidden costs also exist and are frequently missed out from the business case. Sometimes, such costs come from new technologies making organisations feel uncomfortable to quantify them. For example, being mobile and have all the information at your fingertips is great, isn’t it? It surely is! But what about the financial and operational costs? Organisations are now dealing with the opportunity of using a myriad of different devices and technologies but are lacking the knowledge and tools to maintain all these different pieces of hardware and software together. Employees ask (almost demand) companies to go mobile and have data and services always available, but often ignore the fact that this request represents an IT burden that requires additional investment, development and maintenance of different ecosystems, as well as, monitoring different sources of security threads. There’s an interesting related article here. Although there are benefits attached, these are costs to consider too.

So, back to my friend’s comment, she described the thought-process behind the deployment of their systems. Undoubtedly, in this context, was a matter of semantics as her organisation has a clear picture of the hidden costs and benefits of adopting the new technology (and recognises that some “surprises” will appear along the way). But, this is not always the case inside meeting rooms where decisions are made.

How is it like in your organisation? Is undoubtedly a matter of semantics or more a mind set?

Feel free to send me feedback via email, comments below, or by connect through Twitter, or the website

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