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More ways to get and manage business information

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When asked to give a talk and struggling to think of a topic, the general rule at the moment is you can’t go wrong if you talk about Business Intelligence. So I make no apologies about returning to the topic since it is rapidly expanding in capabilities. As all aspects of business life seem to get tougher – competition grows with change and any number of challenges happening daily – you can never have enough information. Business Intelligence has always meant looking at how well we have been performing against the benchmarks we have set through establishing comparison reporting. That’s good but not great, to misquote a well known book.

Actually the comparison between the theme of ‘Good to Great’,  a 2001 classic management book, (properly define a narrow well-chosen focus and relentlessly use all enterprise resources to secure the target without becoming distracted) and my summary of the way it feels today is the real point of what we want from Business Information Management.

At Capgemini we chose to use the term Business Information Management, BIM, as this broadens the whole approach to what is usable, from where and how it can be used within a cohesive framework. It also allows the topic to be broken up into a number of manageable pieces each with their own clear value proposition thus achieving quick focused payback, just as Jim Collins proposed in his book. Sticking to my principle of only providing links to pages of value I think I am justified in pointing to the Capgemini Business Information Management homepage so you can see the seven focuses and the eight downloadable set of white papers available on the various aspects of applying BIM in various industry sectors.

However the topic, tools and approaches continue to expand as the sources of data expand with the tools and techniques following suit. First up are social tools, and the ability to collect information by mining the interactions to discover who is a key provider of knowledge and on what topics – together with the ‘what and why’ analysis of new questions that  emerge – offers real value. Tapping into the knowledge exchanges of the enterprise’s most experienced people,  as their knowledge gets exposed in alignment to direct operational issues, provides a range of fresh ‘insights’ (the term used to describe the results of evaluation new pools of usually unstructured data). I used an example of this in a previous post  of how we found the expertise to answer the need for Q/R, Quick Read, skills. This also showed that our clients were interested in making use of the technology and if over a period there was enough demand, we could also plan how to go to market with an offer matched to the tracked requirements.

But most of these people don’t sit at desks and manage the planned processes, they are right there in the front line, and that’s where mobility is a real game changer, even though it is not necessarily recognized that when making mobility choices and deployment, this element be considered. Information Week carried an excellent article ‘How to equip five different kinds of mobility worker’  an informative read for anyone looking at mobility deployment. There are a lot of facts and figures about each of the five different groupings but no mention of what tacit knowledge they might have, or the events that each might experience. In fact no mention at all about how social tools and collaboration is a business case in its own right for many mobility deployments! Read the listing again and think about this point. You can see there’s an additional perspective to four of the five. (The fifth group is the desktop worker needing some mobility capabilities when travelling or working from home).

To finish let’s go to the other end of the spectrum and remind ourselves that ‘Good to Great’ assumes that strategic decisions can be made on the basis of good business analysis. The main points here are that this is not a daily activity, but maybe a task to do a couple of times a year, and that ‘good’ means having some pretty deep skills. It’s difficult to carry deep core skills in a topic where the tools are continually changing and upgrading and use is not continuous. Here is another link to a less than well known source of updates on this topic, the graphically named Business Analyst Times website and more particularly to an article on how business analysis can be offered ‘as a Service’, BAaaS . This is a highly interesting proposition in a good article. And while you are on the site check out the downloadable paper on defining and creating a business analyst centre of expertise which also helps define all the aspects of Business Analytics including the role and skills of a good analyst.

Was it worth coming back to the topic so soon after a post a month back? Hopefully the addition of links with more on how to break up the topic into rapidly beneficial deliverables; how to gain additional benefits from mobility and its use with Business Information Management, and one last thought-provoking link to approaching Business Analytics for more strategic analysis has!!

About the author

Andy Mulholland
Andy Mulholland
Capgemini Global Chief Technology Officer until his retirement in 2012, Andy was a member of the Capgemini Group management board and advised on all aspects of technology-driven market changes, together with being a member of the Policy Board for the British Computer Society. Andy is the author of many white papers, and the co-author three books that have charted the current changes in technology and its use by business starting in 2006 with ‘Mashup Corporations’ detailing how enterprises could make use of Web 2.0 to develop new go to market propositions. This was followed in May 2008 by Mesh Collaboration focussing on the impact of Web 2.0 on the enterprise front office and its working techniques, then in 2010 “Enterprise Cloud Computing: A Strategy Guide for Business and Technology leaders” co-authored with well-known academic Peter Fingar and one of the leading authorities on business process, John Pyke. The book describes the wider business implications of Cloud Computing with the promise of on-demand business innovation. It looks at how businesses trade differently on the web using mash-ups but also the challenges in managing more frequent change through social tools, and what happens when cloud comes into play in fully fledged operations. Andy was voted one of the top 25 most influential CTOs in the world in 2009 by InfoWorld and is grateful to readers of Computing Weekly who voted the Capgemini CTOblog the best Blog for Business Managers and CIOs each year for the last three years.

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