Take the Big Data Pregnancy Test

photo credit: Adam Schilling via photopin cc

photo credit: Adam Schilling via photopin cc

Today, leading Big Data companies such as Walmart can for instance access every receipt issued since 1999. This allows Walmart detailed insights into customer behaviour and leads to adapted positioning for goods in one example: The company now positions beer next to baby nappies since fathers shopping for nappies are more likely to drink at home than go to the pub.

One famous example of how insightful data can be, was the case of a 16 year old girl shopping at Walmart. She was sent coupons for baby related articles, e.g. nappies and baby nutrition, since her shopping behaviour indicated that she was pregnant. The father angrily called the store and was complaining that his daughter was sent these vouchers since she is just 16 and it would be highly unlikely that she was pregnant. Two weeks later, the father rang the store again and apologized since his daughter told him that she was actually pregnant. Continue reading

Paradigm Shifters – Hire a Junior to Lead Your Company?

photo credit: Hamed Saber via photopin cc

photo credit: Hamed Saber via photopin cc

First of all, there will always be a paradigm. There might be a state where conflicting paradigms are competing for supremacy but a time without paradigms is not possible.

Having recognised how your own expectations and therefore paradigms influence your beliefs about the world, you can use this ability to advance.

Assuming you have discovered the state of severe discomfort where your old paradigm does not fit anymore, what kind of leader or in general human resources are necessary to complete the paradigm shift? For instance, why do the big strategy consultancies employ often people with backgrounds that often seem counter-intuitive to the business that are in?

To continue reading this article, please visit our sister blog at: Paradigm Shifters – Hire a Junior to Lead Your Company?

Do Our Expectations Cloud Our World?

photo credit: One Way Stock via photopin cc

photo credit: One Way Stock via photopin cc

In strategic decision making, we have certain expectations about the world and how it behaves. In order to find your blue ocean, you are on the lookout for distinguishing elements.

The aim is to make competition irrelevant by carving out for yourself a hopefully close to inimitable competitive advantage. These processes are often similar to paradigm shifts in sciences. These shift describe the advancement from one paradigm, e.g the sun circulates the earth, to another, e.g. the earth circulates the sun. Continue reading

Preparing Your Organisation for an IT Strategy

photo credit: Gaga℘i✗ via photopin cc

photo credit: Gaga℘i✗ via photopin cc

We have said a number of times on this blog that a strategy is useless unless it is accepted by the organisation and properly executed. You can make any decisions you like in an ivory tower but unless the troops on the ground are aligned – resistence will ensure failure to execute. It is also true to say that strategy is only effective if it evolves on a continuous basis, one of the reasons we built Strategy4IT was to make the documentation of the current state possible – to record not just one moment in time but to rather start a continuous cycle of strategy review and adaption. So, how do you make your organisation ready for change and adapt the necessary culture? Continue reading

Setting up the right IT Governance – Part 1

IT Governance is no piece of cake. While there is no such thing as one-size governance, “over-governance” and “under-governance” are pretty easy to spot. The terrors of the former include redundant committees, attendees who show up because “it’s nice to know what’s going on,” and long paper trails that obstruct decision-making. The problems associated with the latter are arguably even uglier: failed audits, delayed projects, and political crises. As the CIO, you need to strike the right balance in setting up governance, and then walk the tightrope ever on…. To continue reading this article, please visit our sister blog from cibsys directly via this link: ‘Setting up the right IT Governance’ 

Getting Buy-in for Strategy

photo credit: Global X via photopin cc

photo credit: Global X via photopin cc

Whenever we kick of a strategy study in our consulting business with a client, we face a classic choice – do we involve the team from the start or work in a think tank and then syndicate the results. I was fascinated to notice that this dilemma occurs more often as mentioned in the recent BBC Article ‘The Difficult Art of a Good Brainstorm’.

There are many relevant points in the article but I think a fundamental point has been omitted that applies to many organisations, especially larger ones. It is of little relevance how good the idea is as long as the organisation does not buy into it. Therefore consulting the wider team in early stages can be critical to paving the way to future radical change. In order to achieve a mental alignment, it is important to to assess early on whether the strategy is likely to just be an ‘evolution’ from where you are today or more a ‘revolution’. Continue reading

Budget and Strategy Once a Year or Continuously?

photo credit: kenteegardin via photopin cc

photo credit: kenteegardin via photopin cc

With the pending end to the year and a new financial year starting for many of our clients I pose this question to you: why is it that the business cycle for strategy and budgets must so often be annual?  We see so often in the corporate landscape that firms aligned decisions processes to artificial cycles driven by financial reporting. Good ideas have to wait until they match the budget and finance cycle and in my view (as well as possibly many others who felt trapped by this before) this just does not make sense.  I have written on this topic before (“Same procedure as every year”) and I strongly believe it is time that organisations break the annual cycle deadlock.

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Automation of Consulting and Decision Making Processes

photo credit: NightRStar via photopin cc

photo credit: NightRStar via photopin cc

In the early days of IT we saw the simple capture of data and automation of basic repetitive processes – frankly by around the 1990s this wave of automation was largely complete. We have seen in the subsequent years the rise of the automation of reporting and monitoring systems. It is now time for the automation of decision making. All around from the rise of Big Data to the social network, semi-automated decision making processes are now enabling sound decision making, e.g. where to invest money, who to connect with on Linkedin to where to have lunch.

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The Importance of IT Upgrade and Replacement Cycles

photo credit: r000pert via photopin cc

photo credit: r000pert via photopin cc

The BBC draws attention in it’s article Why IT failures at big companies are unlikely to go away to one of the largest challenges in developing and defining an end to end strategy – the aging of software – for organisations, especially larger, older and more complex ones. However, not only is this a challenge for larger organisations but also for SMEs. It is all to easy for reasons of economy to avoid upgrades, bypass patches and to generally keep the status quo. The article states that maybe as much as 20% of any software in organisations, and not just big banks, is out of date.  Any house or car owner knows the perils of failing to update things before they reach the end of their life – would you drive a car with worn of tyres or eat something that has already past the best before date? But somehow we are happy to run software that is years past its replacement date.

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Are You Keeping Up With The IT Market Place?

photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc

photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc

Following on from my previous blog post, I am going to relate a rather extreme story of what happens when you fail to keep up with the IT market place, fail to update your software and keep your IT portfolio current.  This is a real story that occurred in a bank.

 
Many years ago a financial sector organisation had installed and successfully used a piece of software for supporting controls and management reporting.  The software had initially been developed by a group of programmers in a smaller independent company, it was successful and was adopted by perhaps 30 or more institutions.