Modernizing your business to prepare for analytics and other technology advances
Some organizations have been operating the same way for years, and it works. For now. But while those businesses maintain the status quo, others are evolving; they’re changing the way they think, embracing new technologies and modifying work habits to meet new demands. They're developing ideas to deal with the volume, velocity and variety of a big data world. In short, they're creating an IT strategy to help them prepare for their next business endeavors.
An IT strategy is a plan to modernize your business. It's the process of making small changes in the way you work so you can prepare for new technologies storming the corporate world – technologies such as analytics, Hadoop and cloud computing.
Creating a more modern strategy isn’t a single project or even a single philosophy. You've got to change your culture. Manage your technology investments. And find a way to make sense of bigger, streaming data.
Why you should have an IT strategy
The IT world is notoriously dynamic, and this is truer today than at any time in the last few decades. Advances in data storage and data processing from big data solutions such as Hadoop are changing the way you make decisions about every aspect of your operation.
And this is where a coherent strategy for IT comes in. By establishing a plan, your business will be better prepared for the future. You’ll embrace new ways of working, so all your teams – particularly business and IT – are on the same page.
This cross-enterprise collaboration can significantly boost your organization’s heath and productivity. The business can solve problems with cloud-based solutions or third-party applications such as SaaS, while IT supports those efforts by building data management or analytics into the process. It’s a formalized, effective partnership that strengthens your entire organization.
While you don’t have to implement new technology right away, an IT strategy is a willingness to be open to it – an understanding that big data, Hadoop and other innovations are knocking at your door. With the right strategy in place, you’ll be ready to answer.
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- Wyndham: In an industry where value trumps location, this leader in time-share exchange needed a way to assess the value of its assets – and found it with forecasting and grid computing.
Keys to success
Building an IT strategy requires a coordinated effort between people, processes and technologies across the enterprise. Here are a few areas that need to be a key part of your plan.
- Data management
When you have high-quality and well-managed data, you’re better prepared to make business decisions and implement analytics. Data management technology is integral to any IT strategy because it lays the groundwork for bigger, better initiatives.
When you start with technology (such as SAS® Data Management) that’s built on a data quality platform, you’re making sure the data that supports all your other projects is accurate and up-to-date. You can then implement data governance, which helps you establish and maintain policies to manage your data – and master data management, which is a complete, customized solution for managing your enterprise information.
Encouraging developers and IT to collaborate on projects leads to bigger, better thinking in your organization. It’s not a role, per se – just like it’s not a technology or a solution to a specific problem. Instead, it’s a culture. And it’s one you should foster.
In a DevOps environment, your development and operations teams work closely together, collaborating to create and implement software programs. It's important to open the lines of communication between these two teams, and you should also use monitoring tools to make it easier for IT to support analytics workflows. When you strike a good balance between the needs of your data professionals and the output of operations, everyone's on the same page and striving for the same goals.
That's why DevOps makes good business sense. But it also has larger implications. When your development and IT teams are in lock step, your organization functions more efficiently, and you can react to market changes faster. It’s a smarter way of staying competitive – and getting ahead.
- New technologies
Consider embracing Hadoop, grid computing, cloud computing, in-memory processing or data visualization. How do they work? Hadoop allows data to be spread over large clusters of commodity servers and processed in parallel. A grid server decides when jobs are run based on which machines are available. Cloud computing reduces deployment times and support costs. In-memory processing minimizes data movement and spreads processing workloads to provide answers faster. And visual analytics makes it possible for executives to analyze big data without the help of IT.
These technologies are invaluable, because they can help you make the most of the data you already have. And they only brush the surface of what’s coming down the pipeline.
How to get started: 3 steps
What needs to happen to establish a solid IT strategy in your organization? It may be easier than you think:
- Evolve your mindset. Approach knowledge in a different way. Become open to new ideas and encourage creativity in the IT process. Enable your CIO to become less of a rule-enforcer and more of a guide. When you start thinking differently, big changes can happen.
- Establish processes. It’s time to take action and put your new mindset into practice. Biggest priority? Make sure business and IT are aligned. Create an advisory board or steering team. Evaluate each stage of the analytic life cycle and make incremental changes when you can.
- Leverage your data sets. Now the technology comes into play. Do you have the right infrastructure in place to handle large amounts of data, or to make sure the data you have is high quality? If not, take small steps to upgrade to newer technologies. Improve your processing speeds, enable analytics and implement the right processes to support bold decisions. It may be the best thing you’ll do for your business.