Tag Archives: applications
Information workers deal with information, or in other words, data. They use that data to do their jobs. They make decisions in business with that data. They impact the lives of their clients.
Many years ago, I was part of a formative working group researching information worker productivity. The idea was to create an index like Labor Productivity indexes. It was to be aimed at information worker productivity. By this I mean the analysts, accountants, actuaries, underwriters and statisticians. These are business information workers. How productive are they? How do you measure their output? How do you calculate an economic cost of more or less productive employees? How do you quantify the “soft” costs of passing work on to information workers? The effort stalled in academia, but I learned a few key things. These points underline the nature of an information worker and impacts to their productivity.
- Information workers need data…and lots of it
- Information workers use applications to view and manipulate data to get the job done
- Degradation, latency or poor ease of use in any of items 1 and 2 have a direct impact on productivity
- Items 1 and 2 have a direct correlation to training cost, output and (wait for it) employee health and retention
It’s time to make a super bold statement. It’s time to maximize your investment in DATA. And past time to de-emphasize investments in applications! Stated another way, applications come and go, but data lives forever.
My five-year old son is addicted to his iPad. He’s had one since he was one-year old. At about the age of three he had pretty much left off playing Angry Birds. He started reading Wikipedia. He started downloading apps from the App Store. He wanted to learn about string theory, astrophysics and plate tectonics. Now, he scares me a little with his knowledge. I call him my little Sheldon Cooper. The apps that he uses for research are so cool. The way that they present the data, the speed and depth are amazing. As soon as he’s mastered one, he’s on to the next one. It won’t be long before he’s going to want to program his own apps. When that day comes, I’ll do whatever it takes to make him successful.
And he’s not alone. The world of the “selfie-generation” is one of rapid speed. It is one of application proliferation and flat out application “coolness”. High school students are learning iOS programming. They are using cloud infrastructure to play games and run experiments. Anyone under the age of 27 has been raised in a mélange of amazing data-fueled computing and mobility.
This is your new workforce. And on their first day of their new career at an insurance company or large bank, they are handed an aging recycled workstation. An old operating system follows and mainframe terminal sessions. Then comes rich-client and web apps circa 2002. And lastly (heaven forbid) a Blackberry. Now do you wonder if that employee will feel empowered and productive? I’ll tell you now, they won’t. All that passion they have for viewing and interacting with information will disappear. It will not be enabled in their new work day. An outright information worker revolution would not surprise me.
And that is exactly why I say that it’s time to focus on data and not on applications. Because data lives on as applications come and go. I am going to coin a new phrase. I call this the Empowered Selfie Formula. The Empowered Selfie Formula is a way in which the focus on data liberates information workers. They become free to be more productive in today’s technology ecosystem.
Enable a BYO* Culture
Many organizations have been experimenting with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs. Corporate stipends that allow employees to buy the computing hardware of their choice. But let’s take that one step further. How about a Bring Your Own Application program? How about a Bring Your Own Codebase program? The idea is not so far-fetched. There are so many great applications for working with information. Today’s generation is learning about coding applications at a rapid pace. They are keen to implement their own processes and tools to “get the job done”. It’s time to embrace that change. Allow your information workers to be productive with their chosen devices and applications.
Empower Social Sharing
Your information workers are now empowered with their own flavors of device and application productivity. Let them share it. The ability to share success, great insights and great apps is engrained into the mindset of today’s technology users. Companies like Tableau have become successful based on the democratization of business intelligence. Through enabling social sharing, users can celebrate their successes and cool apps with colleagues. This raises the overall levels of productivity as a grassroots movement. Communities of best practices begin to emerge creating innovation where not previously seen.
As an organization it is important to measure success. Find ways to capture key metrics in productivity of this new world of data-fueled information work. Each information worker will typically be able to track trends in their output. When they show improvement, celebrate that success.
Invest in “Cool”
With a new BYO* culture, make the investments in cool new things. Allow users to spend a few dollars here and there for training online or in-person. There they can learn new things will make them more productive. It will also help with employee retention. With small investment larger ROI can be realized in employee health and productivity.
Foster Healthy Competition
Throughout history, civilizations that fostered healthy competition have innovated faster. The enterprise can foster healthy competition on metrics. Other competition can be focused on new ways to look at information, valuable insights, and homegrown applications. It isn’t about a “best one wins” competition. It is a continuing round of innovation winners with lessons learned and continued growth. These can also be centered on the social sharing and community aspects. In the end it leads to a more productive team of information workers.
Revitalize Your Veterans
Naturally those information workers who are a little “longer in the tooth” may feel threatened. But this doesn’t need to be the case. Find ways to integrate them into the new culture. Do this through peer training, knowledge transfer, and the data items listed below. In the best of cases, they too will crave this new era of innovation. They will bring a lot of value to the ecosystem.
There is a catch. In order to realize success in the formula above, you need to overinvest in data and data infrastructure. Perhaps that means doing things with data that only received lip service in the past. It is imperative to create a competency or center of excellence for all things data. Trusting your data centers of excellence activates your Empowered Selfie Formula.
You are going to have users using and building new apps and processing data and information in new and developing ways. This means you need to trust your data. Your data governance becomes more important. Everything from metadata, data definition, standards, policies and glossaries need to be developed. In this way the data that is being looked at can be trusted. Chief Data Officers should put into place a data governance competency center. All data feeding and coming from new applications is inspected regularly for adherence to corporate standards. Remember, it’s not about the application. It’s about what feeds any application and what data is generated.
Very much a part of data governance is the quality of data in the organization. Also adhering to corporate standards. These standards should dictate cleanliness, completeness, fuzzy logic and standardization. Nothing frustrates an information worker more than building the coolest app that does nothing due to poor quality data.
Data needs to be in the right place at the right time. Any enterprise data takes a journey from many places and to many places. Movement of data that is governed and has met quality standards needs to happen quickly. We are in a world of fast computing and massive storage. There is no excuse for not having data readily available for a multitude of uses.
And finally, make sure to secure your data. Regardless of the application consuming your information, there may be people that shouldn’t see the data. Access control, data masking and network security needs to be in place. Each application from Microsoft Excel to Informatica Springbok to Tableau to an iOS developed application will only interact with the information it should see.
The changing role of an IT group will follow close behind. IT will essentially become the data-fueled enablers using the principles above. IT will provide the infrastructure necessary to enable the Empowered Selfie Formula. IT will no longer be in the application business, aside from a few core corporation applications as a necessary evil.
Achieving a competency in the items above, you no longer need to worry about the success of the Empowered Selfie Formula. What you will have is a truly data-fueled enterprise. There will be a new class of information workers enabled by a data-fueled competency. Informatica is thrilled to be an integral part of the realization that data can play in your journey. We are energized to see the pervasive use of data by increasing numbers of information workers. The are creating new and better ways to do business. Come and join a data-fueled world with Informatica.
Just like your house needs yearly spring cleaning and you need to regularly throw out old junk, your application portfolio needs periodic review and rationalization to identify legacy, redundant applications that can be decommissioned to reduce bloat and save costs. If you have a hard time letting go of old stuff, it’s probably even harder for your application users to let go of access to their data. However, retiring applications doesn’t have to mean that you also lose the data within them. If the data within those applications are still needed for periodic reporting or for regulatory compliance, then there are still ways to retain the data without maintaining the application. (more…)
With just a few days remaining in what has been an eventful year, I thought I’d take some time to reflect on the world of data quality as I’ve observed it over the past twelve months. While the idea of data quality improvement in general didn’t change much, the way that companies are viewing and approaching it most certainly have. Here are three areas that seemed to come up quite frequently:
Data governance awareness grew
In thinking about all the customer interactions that I was involved in throughout the year, it’s hard to come up with one where the topic of data governance didn’t surface. Whereas before, the topic of data governance only seemed to come up for companies with more mature data management organizations, now it seems everyone is looking to build a governance framework in conjunction with their data quality efforts. Furthermore, while previously the conversation was largely driven by IT, now it’s both IT and business stakeholders that are looking for answers to how data governance can help them drive better business outcomes. In increasingly competitive market conditions, we can only expect this trend to continue. Whether it’s focused on increasing revenue, driving out cost or managing risk and compliance, data quality with data governance is where companies of all sizes are turning to create and sustain a differentiated edge. Trends like big data will only make this need more acute. (more…)
What type of blog would this be if I didn’t end the year with my 2010 predictions?
To begin on a positive note, IT budgets will go up in 2010 after a global average 4-5% decrease in 2009. In many respects, however, 2010 will be even more difficult on IT than 2009. How can I say this if budgets are increasing? Doesn’t this mean we will have more money to throw at nagging issues?
In general, most IT organizations have deferred maintenance on many core infrastructure and application items. For example, in the past, several of my peers would automatically refresh laptops at the three-year mark. I know many of them have extended this to five years. Even though the deferred hardware upgrades had a positive net impact on the budget, it was an increase in IT burden to manage old equipment as the “meantime between failures” increases. Now they are looking to upgrade these boxes. This is true for networks, phone systems, servers, applications… (How many of you are running Windows 2000 and need to upgrade?) (more…)