There have been several surveys this year indicating that the spend in IT has shifted away from transactional applications towards information. Why is this? Part of the reason has to do with the acceptance that ERP solutions are, like SaaS, best done by delivering a vanilla technology solution and adapting the business. Linked to this is that with the past decades of investment in transactional applications most organisations have most functional areas already implemented so the question is change rather large scale implementation. Fundamental processes for Order to Cash, Record to Report, Hire to Retire, etc, etc have all been codified, the ability to innovate is in two places: firstly in the business specific areas and secondly in the effectiveness of decisions.
It is this latter area that makes Information investment so important and it is also driven by the four key trends in information today. Volume, Latency, Quality and Forecasting. Historically Information management has been about the Data Warehouse, the place that dead information goes to be trawled through to report on what went right and wrong in the past. This was never the most important part of an information landscape and rarely something that, despite the title of Chief Information Office, the CIO cared about in comparison with ERP and other transactional systems.
Today however it is Information that is becoming central and is liable to dominate more and more as the need to collaborate becomes less about process innovation and more about decisions. The three key changes are also radically changing how old school Data Warehouses are being transformed. Firstly the question of Volume with ‘Outside-In’ information driving volumes far beyond the competencies of most existing data management organisations. Secondly the reduction in latency often to in-transaction time response means that data integration is no-longer about out of hours batch and ETL but instead is about BPM, Web Services, REST and WebSockets. This changes how the IT department and the business interact with and see information, no longer is there the separation of transactional system silos for operations and then data warehouse for reporting it becomes a question of information distribution into and between those silos (where MDM becomes essential).
The third angle is the shift in quality from being an after hours ETL process for the data warehouse and instead being something that needs to be addressed in the front office. This shifts the focus of Data Quality from simple technical solutions towards a need for actual consistent information governance. This need for Information Management to spread beyond IT and into the hands of information consumers and producers is a radical shift for most companies.
Finally we have the question of Forecasting, or Analytics, what people want today is not to know that they made a mistake yesterday or failed to react to demand effectively but a prediction on what the future demand will be. This requires a new generation of Data Scientists and Analysts who are well versed in mathematical modelling and business modelling rather than professionals who can write a good report.
Just as Software outstripped Hardware spend so Information is outstripping process spend, the trend will continue as the focus in business becomes more on getting the decision right than in changing the process.