Source: Harvard Business Review
Why is blockchain becoming a trend for businesses? There’s one area for improvement that needs help in systems today. It’s contracts, transactions, and records of actions completed. Paperwork all over the place. The system in place hasn’t kept up with the rest of the digital age. Blockchain can help in this arena if companies started to take advantage.
The blockchain is open source and takes care of virtual currencies. It records transactions between two people buying and selling currency in permanent ways. If blockchain is in the business world, imagine the possibilities. Storing contracts without worrying about tampering. All agreements, process, task, and payment go into the records. People, agencies, machines, and algorithms would be able to contact and communicate with each other with little trouble.
The problem here is looking after security and breaking down barriers already in place. The blockchain isn’t considered a disruptive technology because it will create new foundations. The ramifications are huge.
The 4 Adaptations for Blockchain
- Single Use – Low coordination applications to make better, cheaper, highly focused solutions.
- Localization – High in innovation but don’t need many users to create usefulness. It makes it easier to promote to the rest of the agency.
- Substitution – These build on what’s already in place. And here there will be high resistance. It requires coordinating and replacing systems already fully integrated into systems. It could take years to put in place and start using.
- Transforming – These are new items that will be placed into use, creating fast change to economic, social and political systems. Smart contracts are the best options to start with now. It automates payments when conditions are met.
Start the blockchain in single-use applications. There won’t be as much risk taken during changes as they aren’t new and don’t involve much coordination with third parties. Blockchain can help to find problems quickly through tracking processes agencies have in place already. Another cool thing is that it could possibly cut costs of transactions. The big thing to consider is this, if blockchain becomes big in business, it will affect your company in some manner.
Review of Article
These is general guidance for creating standard data models. I’m not going to include all the steps as it’s over 24 separate steps, but depending on what your business requires you might not need to have all the steps anyways. The link to the article is above if you’d like to see the entire list of what you can include.
Steps for Building Logical Data Models
- Gather up the business requirements
- Analyze business requirements
- Select target database – the data modeling tool will build the scripts to create reports
- Assign data type to attributes created to find data
- When analysis complete create columns to sort data
- Build subject areas to add the data
- Validate data model
- Create reports
Steps for Building Physical Data Models
- Get the logical data model and build a physical one from it
- Add properties to sort data
- Create SQL scripts
- Compare the database from the data model
- Create change log to document changes that have occurred
The Database Management and Data Modeling landscapes have evolved much in the past few years, from the traditional relational model to now include non-relational models as well.
Review of Article
Advantages of Data Modeling
- Provides clear framework for development projects
- Enables high performance
- Corrupt datasets are found quickly and cleaned before using
- Offers tested models for building software
- Outlines scope and risks during development
- Includes detailed documentation which helps with future maintenance
- Wide variety of machine facts to include Internet of Things (IoT)
- Scale and speed of data increasing along by machine learning
- Demand of aggregated data is increasing
- Public, private on-site Cloud storage
- Huge amounts of data collected into what is Data Lakes (unchanged data) for data scientists to analyze later
- Automated data modeling (algorithms)
- Predictive modeling with advanced machine learning
- Semantic data models
SQL Database Trends 2018
- Adoption rates will differ as companies due to security concerns
- Cloud adoption
- AI capabilities are increasing
- SQL Servers for Linux
- There are new schedules for software updates (handled by the vendors themselves, not Microsoft like before)
- Use of Data Vaults
It sounds pretty exciting doesn’t it? So many changes to look forward to trying out for your business.
A very interesting and in-depth article about ERP and why you should consider using it. A very good read that gives a lot of good information.
ERP combines software systems from departments like finance, human resources and warehouse management. It combines it into a single, integrated software program running off a single database. This way the various departments can more easily share information and collaborate. It’s a tall order, but that integrated approach can have a tremendous payback if companies install the software correctly.
Purpose of Information Systems
Information Systems (IS) are to help you and your company to find new strategies in order to gain competitive advantage in your industry. One way to do this is through adapting IS in your business. IS helps the organization to use its data, reduce workload and assist compliance with mandatory regulations.
3 Roles for IS
Information Storage and Analysis
Companies now use more advanced databases that contain all types of data about what they do. IS can store, update and analyze the information. From all the information that the agency has, they can figure out new solutions to both current and future problems. Information can also be integrated from different sources both in and outside of your company. This allows you to keep the company up to date with both internal performances and external opportunities or threats.
Assist with Making Decisions
Information Systems are all about helping you to make strategic plans for your business. The management team uses the information gathered to create plans and decisions for longevity and making more money. You use IS to measure and test all the information gathered from all sources. The analysis and comparison of market trends helps you to decide if your strategic decisions made are both adequate and are good quality.
Assist with Business Processes
IS helps businesses to create more value based systems for your company. Information Systems are integrated anywhere to measure out where tasks will make that department run better and for less money. Or it can make sure that everyone follows whatever regulations each department needs to follow to stay in compliance with government laws. It both simplifies business processes and gets rid of unneeded activities. They also add controls to employee processes. This in turn makes sure that only the ones who need to know have access to certain tasks. IS gets rid of repetitive tasks, increases accuracy and leads to better project planning and implementation.
Implementing new systems costs a lot of money. It includes not just the installation but also employee training sessions. Some employees might even resist the changes being brought on. This in turn can hinder your operations and employee turnover could increase. Just make sure to have strong leadership in place when doing this. It will help guide employees and managers through the transition while weighing cost against benefits to see if you would really like to do this.
Types of BI
Business Intelligence (BI) is extremely popular and is a top focus. There is the traditional software, cloud services, mobile apps and social media. What type do you need for your business that will help and not hinder progress? Choosing the wrong software to fix your business problem(s) or having end users who don’t understand the new programming will cause failures.
- Not defining the business problem(s) – Don’t jump the gun until you know exactly what you need. Buying for general capability is the worst mistake you can make. Look for defined problems that need solving.
- Not getting commitment from end users before choosing the BI solution – Make sure to get people’s opinions of the selections available as they’re the ones who will ultimately use it every day. Otherwise, the tools will be ineffective as no one will use the upgrades. They have to approve of what might become the new initiative, or they will never use it. Don’t tell them they have to use it, help them to understand why they’ll want to use it when it’s up and running.
- Not considering security or legal requirements – Follow data governance when selecting new solutions. It protects both your company and customers.
- Don’t get swayed by features and forget legacy systems and integration – Most companies look and rank BI software by the features available. This is wrong. You need to look and see which app will be able to integrate with what system you use already. There has to be an ability to work with all your other business systems or it won’t work correctly.
More BI Mistakes
- Not choosing a program that can scale and adapt to change – Choosing a solution that isn’t flexible is one of the worst things you can do. Self-service analytics are now the norm, where they can work well with new data sources. The ability to scale is necessary is as the system grows, the software has to keep up. You don’t want to have to buy new software every time the business grows.
- Not considering the mobile workforce – You have to consider mobility. Being able to use the new BI solution on a smart phone is a great advantage and allows for more productivity.
- Rushing implementation – Never rush the upgrade. Mistakes are going to be made with possible cost increases.
- Insufficient training and underestimating costs of training – A few weeks of training isn’t going to cut it with today’s BI systems. The systems in place now are very complex. End users need a lot more training to work them. There’s also the need for ongoing training to keep the end users in the loop for changes to the programs.
- Not leveraging intelligence and reporting – If you’re going to collect all this data, then make sure to share, analyze and act on what is found. It’s a waste to buy the new BI solution if not used properly.
Uses for Upgrades
This software is used in many ways. It is used to build reports, find risks and opportunities and forecast trends. Don’t become complacent with pre-defined sets of reports. You’ll miss changes that are occurring in the business world.
Business Intelligence and Analytics
What is the biggest challenge today for upgrading your business? You’ll find the answer through using tools enabling business intelligence (BI) and analytics strategies. It seems that businesses are looking to adopt BI and more advanced analytics to achieve bigger gains. Upper management needs to explore more information to gather key areas that they feel need improvement.
The Biggest Challenges:
- Data Preparation – The ability to complete data management in putting together and cleaning data before compiling reports and analytics.
- Skills and Leadership – Is there a structure focused on needs of both BI and analytics along with more complex methods?
- Ease of Use – Can those who are less technically inclined be able to use the system?
The biggest gaps are in data prep. It is more difficult and more complex than it seems. The size of the company and how they are using BI and analytics doesn’t matter. They all see big gaps in how they filter, transform and prepare their data. Good data gathering and compiling is completed. It helps find both relationships and potential outcomes quickly. The information found here will help improve your company’s productivity and build competitive advantages. Consider automation and self-service also for those in the agency who are less technically inclined. Analytics are behind BI. Improvements are needed to be able to prepare, augment and explore the data gathered. This will help your agency to find root causes and trends. You can then build and update predictive models through using machine learning.
Skills and Leadership
Skills and leadership are key too. Agencies strong in these areas still say that there are many challenges in innovation, creativity, and leadership. Shown executive support enforces the need for upgrades or change just will not happen. If there’s no strong vision and support at this level, the initiatives will fail or underperform. A leader needs to make sure that they openly show the value of success from the new initiatives.
Ease of Use
Overworked data scientists or analysts already in your company because of changes being implemented need help. In this case, it’s better to create self-service and interactive tools where everyone can find them. Nontechnical users will need the guidance, and instead of overworking your data scientists and analysts, this can help. There’s software built to aid building systems that can detect relationships, correlations, segments, and outliers. It could use natural language to create queries. It could present context-based narratives of important findings. All sorts of things could be created with the new software to help the organization.
Increasing adoption of BI and Analytics
- Invest in data and data prep
- Nurture culture, skills, and leadership
- Keep self-service and Ease of Use in the Forefront
If the challenges of gathering and preparing data are not addressed, it will become more difficult to find a use for BI and analytics. If strong leadership isn’t used to make the employees excited to use the new technologies, the initiative will be a failure. And if ease of use with smart/automated capabilities isn’t used, it’ll hinder adoption of BI and more advanced analytics. Consider these things before upgrading your systems.
Definition of UOA
UOA is an business method of performing tasks based on the hierarchical composition of different units of software. These units give support to both operational and actions completed in technological systems. UOA creates groups of software fully supporting purpose, function, behavior, and structure of these systems. It helps clarify and strengthen architectures through finding right places and owners for assets. Included are web applications, mobile apps, web services and business processes to name a few. The unit then becomes both a construct and micro-platform that allows other components plugin.
Key Points of UOA
- Creates digital constructs for actions completed and operational support
- Views companies as a Composite (control) or Leaf (functional)
- Unit software has to be comfortable and work in the unit assigned
- Every unit has to have formal software boundaries. They represent contracts between assemblies both in and out of the agency.
- All units have to run operations implemented as business processes that are executable. Every process is owned by one section only.
- There is particular emphasis on control units. It causes a weakness in the company as only a few personnel will know how to run it.
What Does UOA Do?
UOA uses Systems Thinking to define problems. It uses Organization Design to configure enterprise and composite units. SOA uses constructing unit boundaries, and Business Rules to govern the system to name a few.
UOA allows practical and natural approaches to satisfy the needs of users. It completes this through unit orientation and clarity of what the system is supposed to do. Hierarchical unit structure helps define roles and spreads responsibilities between all the units. It creates a stable system where it can adapt, develop and grow fast. Process-centric (inside) and event-driven integration (outside) is where processes pass through the units to complete work.
Differentiation between functional and control units is defined here. Functional (leaf) units don’t contain other groups. They provide services and products, all digital. Control units have more entities in them. Actions are directed, coordinated, measured and controlled to ensure best means to get the bottom line. There’s a clear understanding of what everyone is to do in the company and delegates decision making to the right people.
Supported are operations interactions. The direction of vision focuses towards products and services instead of the process is itself. The quality of communication between system parts is considered more important than the quality of parts. The character of interfaces measures effectiveness.
If a company’s units support strongly built digital constructs that entirely concentrate on the customer, everything will grow. Effectiveness, efficiency, and efficacy will improve. New capabilities initiate with further development. Growth through cloned abilities will occur, while agility will increase speed. There are numerous opportunities abound.
What Is ERP?
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) has to be considered part of the plan when upgrading your system. In this information technology (IT) has to be combined with the business process to help bring a competitive advantage to others in the same industry. It is anything from reading an e-mail to updating records of procedures. An ERP is an application that uses a centralized database to run the entire company. This medium allows data from one department for viewing in other branches of the same company. It can be bought either as modules for different parts of the agency, or a subset. ERP systems are there to enforce processes that your business will adopt.
- Not explaining what new systems means to users before starting the project – If the users of the upgrades don’t know why it’s happening and are in agreement, the update will fail.
- Not load testing systems with scripts and end users – How do you know if your file loads are typical? Load testing with scripts and users will complete real tests in this area to make sure that the process will work or not.
- Not performing tests of the new process to see if it works or not – Will everything work as planned?
- Not taking change management or testing sincerely – Know everything you need to know about the change and regression tests beforehand, so you aren’t surprised by “new opportunities.”
- Assigning internal personnel as project managers – Get a consultant project manager as they will focus on the upgrade only. They’ll catch the mistakes made and keep things on schedule and budget.
- Not telling others of changes before they happen – End users don’t like change so make sure to communicate before so they aren’t caught off guard.
- Giving classroom training only – Allow for video training that the users can find and use if they come across a problem they can’t fix. Create a Knowledge area that they can access to see before elevating.
- Not moving components to open business standards – This speeds up future upgrades that will happen. Try to change reports and interfaces to open business standards. It will help a lot in the future, and possibly save money with more completed upgrades.
- Not archiving before upgrading and keeping up security during – Archiving before upgrading will save you time and money. It speeds up queries on large tables, and table conversions as they are will run quicker. Security wise, upgrades are to be need-to-know only. There’s no use in upgrading if spies find a way to get the information out to your competitors.
- Assuming internal tech personnel will pick up years of experience in weeks – Keep the consultants around for a while after the upgrade is complete. Enhancements aren’t easy to learn, and someone has to be there who knows how to run the system. Or at least until the first workers understand the system as well.
Impact of IT on Business
IT has a significant impact on how companies design, build and support their business processes. Information systems have a considerable effect on how these methods work. Agencies improve effectiveness and quality of products and services through empowering their employees. Something to consider.
What is Digital Transformation?
Numerous changes happen where digital economy of business is connected real-time due to new technologies. Digital transformation is directly related due to this. Just about all small and midsized firms have some sort of resources in place. It can be anything from newer and more powerful software and/or computers, new forms of communication or cloud computing. The company has to ensure good implementation and integration of programs to increase performance. How to do this is:
- Hyper-connectivity – Anytime/Anywhere communication
- Unlimited Computing Power – Caused through diverse platforms
- Cloud Computing – Easy access to hosted software/services
- Numerous Sensors and Mobile Devices – Supply continuous streams of information and ways to access them
- Cybersecurity – Lessen internal/external vulnerabilities
Why Buy At All?
Faster growing companies look at ways to drive revenue growth, increase productivity, and get new customers. This is supported through the use of advanced technology. The question becomes what is the best approach to get and use new technology in order to support objectives? Most are buying advanced software applications to help grow their businesses. Buying collaboration software, CRM and ecommerce all help growing businesses through helping internal productivity and efficiency. When one application is updated, they all are. This improves performance of the agency as a whole.
Causes to Upgrade
Most upgrade due to partner and/or customer needs. Their main focus is to improve internally. External influence is also taken into consideration though. Who wants to chase away potential clients due to not listening to their needs too? This is key in order to keep up with competition and the environment that they work in. Effective coordination of technology brings in greater performance results. It is greater then the sum of the parts bought to improve the system as a whole.
The departments that benefit the most from these improvements is sales and marketing. Everyone from services to manufacturing to wholesale and retail benefit too. Internal processes is also up there, but externally faced business is considered more important. This is the rank from highest to lowest in importance:
- Production / Operations
- Commerce / Ecommerce
- Customer Service / Call Center
- Supply Chain Management
- Strategic Planning
- Leverage Technology
- Digital transformation is a continuing process
- Direct / Continuing participation and support of senior management and executives. If there is none, or it is perceived as none, then changes will be hard to implement.
Key Questions to Ask
Key questions to ask yourself and those involved in the process of beginning the changes are many. Where are you falling short compared to other companies? What is the competition doing that you are not? Do you have a strategic plan in place that supports digital transformation? Some things to consider…