Information Systems Integration – Tony Messina

Monthly Archives: September 2017

Future of Systems Thinking in cities

Systems thinking is how the thing being studied interacts with other constituents of the system. As our cities develop from modernizing water and transportation infrastructure, we run into problems that occur on a non-linear basis. By approaching our problems in the city with systems thinking we learn how these problems are essentially the product of the interactions within a city. To “improve human well-being, economic development and environmental protection cannot be in conflict.” With an improved understanding of how our development interacts with the environment, our impact on the environment reduces. This leads to a better quality of life and better benefits to society and the environment. What do you guys think about the application of Systems Thinking and how it affects IT?

Utilizing Virtual Reality Technology in the Military

Image result for vr technology military

Virtual Reality has been one of the most rapidly growing technologies in the last few years.  Most people know about the VR headsets that are used to watch videos and for gaming.  But now VR technology is being used in even more innovative ways.  The United States Military is using VR to prepare their units for their upcoming missions.  “If I need to insert a SEAL team in Syria tomorrow night, all I need is a latitude and longitude,” David Landon, president and CEO of Systems Technology Inc., told Defense News. “So by the time they actually make the jump, they’ve already done it. There are no surprises.”   Virtual Reality is useful in training since real world situations can be played out without putting anyone in harms way.  With the help of immersive VR experiences, “we can get better training for our soldiers and we can do it more efficiently,” said LTC Michael Stinchfield of the Combined Arms Center’s Training Innovation Facility at the National Simulation Center.  The technology is being used in training recruits to accelerate there learning curve but it is also being utilized overseas before missions are executed.  Virtual Reality is going to help prepare our military members for combat and hopefully help bring more of them back home safe.  On the business side of things, any technology that benefits the military is going to be heavily invested in by defense contractors looking to gain a competitive advantage in this new technology.

 

Work Cited:

www.businessinsider.com/us-military-using-new-virtual-reality-trainer-simulate-combat-jumps-2017-5

insights.samsung.com/2017/07/13/how-virtual-reality-is-changing-military-training

Cyber Security and Cyber Currency: Bitcoin

 

Cyber Security is a hot topic for the cyber currency, Bitcoin, and its future. There have been multiple hacks since the origin in 2010. Bitcoin is not regulated like all other currencies. There is no tangible evidence it even exists. Bitcoins are stashed in a users wallet in a cloud susceptible to be hacked or stolen.

Would Bitcoin users or investors want security attached to their cyber currency? Most would disagree. The autonomy and lack of regulations make the currency appetizing to criminal enterprises. Criminal enterprise account for billions annually. If security became attached to the currency it could become less valuable.

Cyber Security would monitor all transactions within the cloud and a government agency will take notice. Some believe criminals and the black market within the dark web mostly use Bitcoin transactions. They account for billions in US dollars annually. Most use Bitcoins transactions to launder their money. Every Bitcoin transaction raises the value. If Cyber Security is attached to the currency the black market will be closed to old ways of laundering money and there will be a drop in the value, which users and investors do not want.

Some users buy Bitcoins to invest or just use as currency. There are stores all over the world recognizing this as a legit currency and can purchase goods in a store. Most of these users enjoy the idea of a government agency not being able or allowed to monitor. Lack of monitoring adds to the value. If cyber security it attached the value could plummet.

Cyber Security of the currency could raise the value as well. It will give the users a sense of security that their currency is safe within their cloud-based wallet that it cannot be hacked or stolen. If there are regulations attached it could be regulated by the FDIC. The FDIC insures each bank account up to $250,000 in case money is stolen or their systems are hacked.

Bitcoin has to do something more proactive to ensure the individuals actively using that their funds are safe. Cyber Security might not be the answer but it needs an answer if it will survive long term. Bitcoin opened at $.06 per Bitcoin on 7/19/2010. The value is now $3,829.57 per Bitcoin. There needs to be a plan set in place for long term survival regarding security.

 

 

Why are companies switching to Cloud Communications?

Many companies these days are starting to move to cloud services. While there is much talk around the cloud, many companies watching from the outside want to know exactly why this is happening. At the top of every company’s list is either making money or saving money. So there is no surprise that switching to the cloud is cost effective for companies. They will have predictable monthly costs while eliminating the need to pay for their installation and maintenance of their traditional systems. Another big reason is scalability. Whether the company is growing or becoming smaller, they will be able to scale the cloud up or down based on the amount of users they have. This provides flexibility for their current situation and for future situations which is a huge positive. The next reason is the quality of service they will be receiving. Companies set out to maximize their uptime while minimizing downtime. Cloud communications maximizes uptime and coverage through multiple, remotely hosted data centers. This is pivotal in helping them avoid costly interruptions and downtime. Another reason is that the cloud technology they are getting is much more advanced. Upgrades are done through automatic software updates that are handled by the cloud communication vendors, allowing to companies to focus on the business. The final reason why companies are switching to the cloud is because of mobility. Businesses need to be able to keep their teams connected and on the same page even when they’re not together, and the best way to do this is through the cloud. Remote workers can access everything they need from their mobile device, and this opens up endless possibilities for companies to take the next step forward.

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For disruptive innovation to work, Organizational Culture NEEDS to change

The healthcare industry has had a huge injection of technology as of late. Several initiatives have been put forth; Data Analytics, Health Information Systems, Healthcare Systems integration, virtual reality, Artificial Intelligence and many more. However, for any of these to actually materialize and be effective, there needs to be a massive shift in Organizational culture. This is an important matter, especially because it is the management that eventually gives the green light to implement these changes. It is understandable that when an organization has been successful with its decade/century-old business processes, they would not want to change it. The problem with this is that the organization ends up staying in its comfort zone, and that is never good. The silo mentality, legacy systems or fear of change needs to change so that it can allow this new wave of disruptive technology to arrive, replace and improve the value provided by the company. This all has to start from the top of the organization with the Chief Officers and Vice Presidents. They need to understand that due the advancements in technology, one has to adapt to innovative ways and even introduce new technologies to stay up-to-date and provide the best value for the patients whom they are eventually serving. Organizations can only benefit from the injection of new and young employees who are generally more enthusiastic about new and disruptive innovations that can make a huge change. The organizational change needs to implemented through ways that will change influence every employee’s mindset towards an innovative and change-embracing one. According to Dr Jurgi Camblong, CEO and founder of a Swiss based healthcare firm called Sophia, the issue of changing the organizational culture is “not a tech problem, its a mentality concern.”

What will be CIO’s futures in IT organization in 2030?

In 2016, duties of many CIOs includes making sure all systems are up and running smoothly and discussing with the CEO about IT budgets and opportunities. A significant part of CIOs’ life is dealing with technology initiatives and vendors. The 2016 Gartner CIO survey data about how they spend their day showed that 75% CIOs spend their time more on commodity-oriented IT, and less time on revenue-generating IT initiatives. What about futures? In the future, CIO will have a strategic seat at the enterprise leadership table. They are no longer the people who deal with IT emergency but revenues from IT because of digital business. Digital business will gain insights into customers based on collecting information about their preferences and experiences. Why CIO’S future will like this? Becuase the IT organization in 2030 will be composed of self-manging, largely autonomous pods. In 2030, the current IT function, such as external sources of support services and infrastructure, the application and data hosted in cloud environments and networks and devices will be provided by externally provides. The future IT domain will include a pot guides service providers. IT domains in the future also need different areas of expertizes working together. When the IT domain wants to other functions, like HR, leaders of IT domain will be responsible for the relative administrative decisions and form a shared team vision. In addition, IT domain will be highly flexible teams, like clusters or pods that move among assignments as idea flows. Meanwhile, the IT workforce will not be stuck in IT department, but need to be able to participate in self-organizing teams to work.

Information Economics – Why Haven’t I Heard This Term Before?

When I came across this term in one of our articles for reading, I was surprised that I hadn’t heard it before at any point during my short MIS career. But, due to the author’s disapproving tone, I got the idea that it’s probably not the best concept to get attached to.

Proponents of information economics view it as a “practical approach to valuing information systems” – not quite giving a dollar valuation to a potential project, but doing more than just saying “trust us, it’s important.”  Developed in the late 1980’s, it attempts to link business performance to information technology. It was created in response to the fact that the value of IT investments “are more often justified by faith alone.” Information Economics argues that the cost-benefit analyses that are traditionally used to evaluate investments do not work for IT investments. For benefits, the methods suggests looking at six classes: enhanced view of return on investment, strategic match, competitive advantage, management information, competitive response, and strategic information systems architecture.  While it does involve using a formula for measurement, the outputs don’t mean much when compared to other investment values in the organization. Additionally, as mentioned by the author, there is no empirical evidence that this method works.

I don’t have experience with anyone suggesting this method for valuing IT projects.  However, I have experienced this idea of suggesting very subjective, qualitative measurements for why an IT project is a good idea.  Have you experienced anything similar in your jobs or internships? What was the response from senior leadership?  Do you think that Information Economics is worth learning about?

Source: https://www.cio.com/article/2438921/it-organization/everything-is-measurable.html

A Source of Clean and Efficient IT: “Fusion Teams”

The need to support digitization and optimize business-led IT while contending with a complex and volatile business environment, has fundamentally changed the way teams are built and reorganized, leading to a demand in “fusion teams.” These replace traditional teams separated by business lines and solely focused on discrete IT functions where their individual expertise lies. Fusion teams form across these traditional boundaries, integrate business and technical skills, collaborate continuously to deliver technology, and draw leaders across the enterprise. The unit is a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Despite the benefits, only 25% of fusion teams can provide the required results on time. Success often comes from four “fusion behaviors” shared by teammates. The first is a coaching commitment: sharing expertise to better achieve overall team objectives. The second is a learning mind-set: being open to improving skills outside one’s own area of expertise or function. These two work together to ensure a collaborative environment and to improve the collective skillset. The third is an open disposition: contending with risk and finding new ways of working outside typical process-centric and functionally-focused attitudes. Finally, having a digital acumen: developing a broad-based understanding of how digitalization affects the operating model and creates other company-wide changes. Focusing on these behaviors makes team formation more of a science than previously thought. For our class projects, our teams of course are made up of MIS majors, but each member brings a unique background, interest, and point-of-view. These differences can fuse together with the right behaviors (hopefully) to create a more effective team.

With the right composition and enough support from leadership, fusion teams will provide greater business value to a firm through more practical solutions and continue to change IT’s image as simply a cost center. Yet, what problems can the creation of a fusion team bring? Are there other team compositions that might be more effective in achieving IT goals?

What is “Business-IT Alignment”?

Applying what IT does on business strategic planning is the priority of the CIOs. Many CIOs simply think IT and business are two separate units. According to CIO, traditionally business and IT are two divisions, and within IT there is the strategic part and tactical part (Edmead, 2016). 

There is little connection between business unit and IT unit, and usually business and IT does not align because of a communication gap. In real world, people in business unit speak differently than people in IT. Although, business should be the guideline for IT development and strategic plans. Therefore, one of the challenges that CIOs face is to make IT people speak business and business people speak IT. Furthermore, CIOs need to make sure that IT solutions can actually create value for the business line. This is where Business Relationship Management (BRM) comes in place. BRM is the key to matching IT resources to business needs. There are two BRMs, one is strategic and one is tactical. The strategic BRM plays a role as the communicator between IT and business, while tactical BRM acts on how to make infrastructure and IT projects work for business. For example, tactical BRM will be in place when a new application is developed to leverage business process and instruction is needed.

Now we know what are the key components in business-IT alignment, but what are some strategic plans out there that CIOs can implement to make IT people act quickly to business incidents or critical environment changing, like economic crisis and business people to technological environment changing, like system shut down or data lost?

 

Source:

Edmead, Mark. “What do we mean when we say ‘business-IT alignment’?” CIO, CIO, 21 Mar. 2016, www.cio.com/article/3040867/it-industry/what-do-we-mean-when-we-say-business-it-alignment.html. Accessed 18 Sept. 2017.

Business Process Management and Information Technology

Business Process Management (BPM) is the practice of aligning business goals and business process as the business evolves. In the past, business process management is trying to push down costs, speed up efficiency, and increase overall profits. However, business process management is shifting toward creating more customer value with information technology now. In order to have a more integrated system and better serve its customers, a New Zealand gas distribution network operator First Gas is going to implement a cloud-based business process management software which can help them streamline their customer services. First Gas is the owner and operator of the New Zealand Gas Transmission System consisting of the 2200km pipeline and more than 4800km of gas distribution networks. Currently, various business units operate in various ways in First Gas. There is no universal processes and standards that was mapped from start to finish which prevent them from gaining customer stratification. According to the First Gas’ BPM vendor, Promapp, its primary job will assist First Gas to increase internal control and audit, and increase the efficiency of their approval workflow. The process is going to take more than 3 years and expected to consolidate departments’ fragile business process to create a more comprehensive business structure.

 

Being as MIS students, we all understand the importance of IT role to shape a better organizational structure and business process. However, we still can see many examples suffer from the fragile/decentralized system now. My question is how can we truly convey the “IT is important yet essential for gaining the competitive advantage against rivals” idea to top managers?