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Information flows feed every business process. Process automation cannot happen without digital information. This is digital transformation, and information is inextricably linked to it. In speaking with small, medium, and large businesses, we hear them express over and over again that compliance, risk, cost savings, and improved productivity are among key drivers for information management. Business leaders intimate that managing and getting value out of the large amounts of enterprise data is a key priority.

Information is an asset One of the key aspects of digital disruption and the ensuing digital transformation taking place is the underlying fact that information is an asset. Information is, in fact, your greatest asset from a business perspective. Information-enabling every part of the business allows enterprises to scale digitally in a way they could never before. Effective management of information, however, requires a strategic approach that puts people and people processes at the center. Managing information is a delicate dance of collecting, sharing, and monetizing that information where it makes sense.

It is what can be derived from information that is key here.

There are transformative insights hidden in enterprise data, but organizations have to know where their data is to glean insights from it. So, enterprises need visibility into their data, access, and the ability to take action.

Outmaneuver competitors and keep your small or midsize business moving forward

Information management helps enterprises break down the massive amounts of data into a manageable form that is easy to understand. A major part of information management is archiving and storage management to ensure accessibility and proper governance. These are key concerns that have to be addressed. The imperative is that enterprises have to manage information like the asset it is. The refresh affected customer systems, analytics, product development, and core ledgers. When communicating the changes with the bank leadership, the IT group explicitly avoided describing their hardware and software assets; instead, they focused on the services they would provide to internal functions.

This approach made it easier to add new IT functions.

Leveraging Technology for Business Growth in 2017 – 2020

The same was true of new marketing tools and the new network for linking branches. Ultimately, the bank made its message about services public. It was investing in modernization, it announced, because it knew the investment would help the bank become the type of financial institution that its customers and partners needed. Adopting a services mind-set also promotes a more open approach to sharing value with service providers. By using your providers as ongoing partners in innovation, you can shift your focus from negotiating terms to collaboratively generating results.

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Just as successful transformation is a staged journey, so too are systems modernization efforts. They methodically developed the capabilities and business models they needed to deliver this vision. Your systems modernization can help you do something similar. Having set a direction based on customer value as in principle number 1 , you now plot a systems modernization road map, that is, a sequence of milestones and markers that you can expect along the way.


For example, you might introduce cloud-based capabilities early, so they can be used for other initiatives. Or you may need to modernize some legacy systems as a prerequisite for improving time-to-market for product launches. For a technology modernization at GE, the business units and geographies shared the responsibility to get core applications up and running.

This coalition helps to ensure ongoing business alignment. Set it up as a self-correcting journey. In each step, you learn from previous iterations and discuss what could be done better next time. Most large and midsized companies cannot reorganize their legacy IT system all at once.

Their efforts must be divided, prioritized, and sequenced, or they will be too large and complex to manage. Most IT modernization efforts are organized by project; they are short-lived efforts, framed by conventional enterprise software categories, and budgeted and delivered through development teams that disband when the project is complete. This leads to a short-term focus that can distract efforts from the most important goal: building the capabilities that deliver value. What if you organized by capabilities instead? Think of your systems modernization initiative as an opportunity to energetically improve these capabilities, drawing on your digital expertise.

For example, Inditex the Spanish apparel company best known for its retail brand Zara has long had distinctive capabilities in customer insight, fashion-forward product design, rapid-response manufacturing, and globally consistent branding. In recent years, it has enhanced these capabilities with an IT modernization that included, among other things, setting up RFID tags for every item it sells. Now it also has an integrated online—offline inventory capability, so that any clerk in a Zara store can instantly locate a garment in a specified size and color, and arrange for it to be shipped directly to a customer — giving the company strengths in customer satisfaction that few other retailers can match.

You logically group applications and infrastructure by the business capabilities they primarily support. Then you find the necessary applications and hardware needed to fill the gaps in those capabilities, and better yet to refine and expand your conception of those capabilities, staying steps ahead of competitors. Organizing the IT operating model in this way offers many benefits.

They include enhanced business—IT alignment, the ability to deliver faster innovation and greater value, more effective investments, and a simplified vendor landscape. Consider procuring a managed services and solutions provider with which to partner; they may be more familiar with the newer technologies and thus able to deliver more quickly and effectively than you can. Your IT organization is no longer wedded to legacy concepts; it can help accelerate a digital transformation by applying principles such as mobile access, API-based design, microservices, cloud-based infrastructure, and modular IT structures.

When executing the modernization, look for ways to realize benefits faster. Divide the modernization road map into discrete delivery increments, releasing usable functions on a frequent release cycle. Users of your systems could include customers, employees, and anyone else who interacts with your company, including regulators, suppliers, and community members.

Use established agile frameworks for design and development. These include scrum consisting of self-organizing teams , disciplined agile delivery a process for team decision making , the scaled agile framework which aligns multiple teams , DevOps practices aimed at reducing software development time , and lean IT which is based on quality and continuous improvement approaches.

Whichever frameworks you choose, train all stakeholders carefully in them, so they have a shared understanding of the practices involved. Even as you embrace agility, remain user-centric, that is, attentive to customer and employee responses, and responsive in the way you incorporate their reactions into your designs. Roll out new features in a way that allows you to test them on different user and customer profiles. For example, you might roll out two different features to members of the same customer group or geographic region to see if they trigger different responses.

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Establish a disciplined and consistent approach to user-centricity. Adapt and adjust your system iteratively, building your own capacity for interpreting user feedback. Adopt a continuous improvement mind-set, so you are always looking for opportunities to learn and make your system better. Seize those opportunities.

Leveraging Technology for Business Growth in 2017 – 2020

Before commencing modernization, perform a careful analysis of the breadth and diversity of resources needed for a successful outcome. Project management and transformational leadership capabilities are as important as technical capabilities. Be highly selective in forming the team that oversees the effort. Choose people with a strong bias for change, a strong desire and ability to learn, a high tolerance for complex and uncertain situations, and a solid reputation for collaboration and teamwork.

Financial resource allocation is just as important. Align funding to your highest modernization priorities. Be very clear about which areas you will not spend money on. Scrutinize your choices about desired features and technologies to ensure that financial resources are aligned with highest value. Avoid locked-in situations, in which a single vendor has control over your interactions because, for example, your data resides in a closed and proprietary system. Insist on open APIs that can connect to a range of other systems.

Experiment with open source software and make interoperability and integration a critical part of your technological due diligence. For example, if you use commercial off-the-shelf software, make sure it can link to a variety of databases, including open source products.

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Think through resourcing for the legacy system to keep it running adequately while the new system is being built. Even during the transition, you may need to fund must-do modifications to the legacy system for example, to meet new regulatory and legislative requirements. Ensure that funding for these types of changes, for both the old and the new systems, has been factored into the overall budget.

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  • Develop a plan for funding to decommission and retire the old system, and to move people to the new one. Include funding for learning and development. Provide incentives to make sure that these people remain highly motivated while doing what may seem to be unglamorous work. The technological systems that you are modernizing are key to your organization's future. Therefore, do not treat modernization — or the procurement of the goods and services needed to support it — as a transactional event.

    When selecting long-term partners, invest in special due diligence in excess of your standard evaluation criteria. Your goal is to find companies that can deliver mutual benefits and with which you can develop a working relationship that involves mutual commitment and creative collaboration as well as a fair deal. Therefore, use informal as well as formal ways of gathering information. Seek out companies whose values you share and whose leadership has proven trustworthy. Evaluate the credibility of their work by looking at the technology systems they have built for themselves.

    Think about how well those systems support their own distinctive capabilities, especially those that would benefit you as their customer. It was founded in as a government-owned corporation, with the mandate of providing the citizens of Alberta with sources of alternative credit. Recognizing the long-term relationships they would need to stand up Brightside, ATB's leaders were very deliberate in the way they evaluated vendors. The list was shortened to four through an RFI process using standard criteria such as technological considerations, the ability to meet requirements and commitments, references, financial health, and long-term viability.

    However, those criteria were just table stakes. The right partner also needed to share the values that ATB Financial held, and to verify that it could be trusted. ATB thus conducted site visits for each of the four semifinalists. In addition, during the visits, the evaluation team spoke to employees at multiple levels. On a fee basis, the first-choice partner delivered a two-month pilot designed to build out 5 to 10 percent of the critical requirements. This allowed ATB Financial to fully evaluate how open the partner was to change, how fast it actually worked, what tools it used, and overall how compatible the two teams were.

    The critical issues, as with any organizational IT effort, are not purely technical. They involve learning how to design systems more effectively, engage individuals, and help facilitate constructive change throughout the enterprise.