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January 8, 2015

The Re-dawning of Business Intelligence

That the Business Intelligence world is being disrupted with new technologies is now common knowledge. However, very few businesses & their BI groups have a holistic view and roadmap to embrace this change. All have few specific new capabilities in mind and here is an opportunity to apply the Infosys 'New and Renew' Strategy to enable BI in your organizations take the next leap.

 

So, firstly let's assess what are we hearing from various stakeholders and the wider BI market:

 

Our Customers:  We need BI to be agile, responsive, trustworthy, cost efficient, easy to adopt and make the right strategic business impact quickly

 

Infosys Experience from Engagements:  Need to Reduce time to insights, bring in some unique assets to accelerate programs, Align customers to industry best practices and need for clear engagement charter in terms of business value and capabilities within an agile delivery model.

 

Industry Analysts:  Analysts like Gartner, Forrester emphasize need for different pricing models, expand BI usage thru' the enterprise, leverage cloud/big data/mobility/advanced visualization etc. They expect avg. BI market growth to be 10% ; 70% of which will still be IT controlled;  Analytics to command 20% of those budgets and rest on Query/integration and reporting.

 

Given these key learning's, the new vision at Manufacturing BI is 'To transform our customers from today's data driven to Analytics driven Enterprises enabled by Rapid, Deep and Actionable Insights'.

 

In order to enable 'Rapid, Deep and Actionable Insights', the following offerings are being planned:

 

Analytics Driven Enterprises: The goal is to help enterprises transform from traditional data driven to analytics driven organizations. This is to be enabled by an Analytics adoption framework that helps make the right analytics investments that matter, 'Leverage-your-data' initiatives to take a deep look at available data & innovate to make strategic use of it and Predictive & Descriptive modeling services driven actionable insights for Manufacturing & Hi-Tech relevant areas like Supply chain optimizations, Personalized customer service, sales, marketing and finance analytics functions.


Responsive Business Intelligence:  This includes unique data exploration Services, Self-service BI capabilities, Persona based KPI solutions, Adv. Visualization tools driven data analysis, Reporting Factories, Data Virtualization and agile delivery models.

 

Big Data Enabled Insights: The above vision of transforming organizations into Analytics Driven Organization will be deepened by leveraging Infosys Information Platform (IIP)  for Predictive maintenance, Manufacturing Quality Analytics, Strategic sales opportunity management, IoT driven usage & health analytics, Agro research, Intelligent Asset mgmt., Customer insights etc.

 

For any of the above to be impactful, Our goal is to help customers have a solid backbone in terms of 'Amplified & Efficient Data Operations'. Some of the offerings towards these are:

 

Landscape Modernization:  Help our customers renew/modernize their existing landscapes with  BI tools consolidation and re-platforming, upgrades, big data migrations, clean & conformed Master data mgmt. strategies, Data quality improvements and implementation accelerators for productive COE's.

     

High Performance Computing: Leverage high performance tools based on in-memory , columnar stores, other No-SQL stores to renew existing systems needing such high performance e.g supply chain visibility, Financial consolidations, Just-in-time offers, Asset management and real-time enterprise data warehouses.

 

Amplified Data Warehousing: Existing data warehouses augmented with Hadoop based platforms to reduce turnaround time for multi-structured, high velocity datasets needed for insights. This can also be leveraged to reduce the fast escalating cost of data warehousing.

 

Manufacturing BI believes this dual strategy of transforming organizations from data driven to Analytics driven enterprises and creating an amplified & efficient data backbone will help next gen enterprises stay ahead in the marketplace & outperform today's run-of-the-mill BI Maturity curves. 

February 3, 2014

Celebrating Entrepreneurship and Innovation- USC Marshall School of Business

 

Today Entrepreneurship and innovation are considered to be the key drivers in sustainable growth of an economy. In light of same there is a need to encourage youth and adults alike to take the leap into new ventures and more importantly empower them to be successful. Economies can no longer let innovation restricted to "Eureka moments" of a few inspired souls. A systemic intervention is the call of the day and hence the emphasis on entrepreneurial education. Many universities have pioneered this cause and today we celebrate the success of one such esteemed business school, the University of Southern California (USC) Marshall School of business.

 

The Marshall School started as the College of Commerce and Business Administration in 1920 and renamed in 1997 following a huge grant of $35 million from Gordon S Marshall, an alumni of the university. The school was the first to offer an Entrepreneurship program in US and the innovation culture continues even today. More than 90% of the faculties are entrepreneurs, lending great credibility to the program. The program is now renamed The Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. U.S News & World report ranks the center as the #2 center in the country focused on entrepreneurship. The center offers both graduate and undergraduate programs to help students develop the skill to start and manage new ventures. It also organizes business plan competitions to provide the seeding capital to the top teams so that they can realize their business idea.

Some of the distinguished alumni of the Marshall Business School are Chris DeWolfe -Cofounder and CEO MySpace; Marc Benioff - Founder and CEO of Salesforce.com; Dan Bane - Chairman and CEO of Trader Joe's. The Marshall has one of the most widespread alumni networks in the world. The members are known as being part of the "Trojan family". The family becomes stronger with the culture of Trojans supporting and recruiting fellow Trojans.

Apart from the program in entrepreneurship the Marshall school of business offers undergraduate and graduate programs in accounting, full and part time MBAs, short term executive courses,  business certificate programs and masters in specialized topics and a PHD program. Further information on the courses offered, scholarships and admissions can be availed from http://www.marshall.usc.edu/students. As part of its commitment to advanced research the Marshall school of business also operates many Centers of excellences in various innovative disciplines. Details about each of the centers are available on http://www.marshall.usc.edu/faculty/centers.

The school consists of 4 state of the art multistory buildings. The main building for MBA students is the Popovich Hall and is considered one of the most technologically advanced among the buildings of business schools in the US. Then we have the Bridge hall which holds the various administrative offices. The other two building are the Hoffman hall which is an 8 story building which also houses the library and the accounting building. One can experience the campus life by enrolling for the summer business program (SBP) a four week tuition program with on campus stay and meals included. Another way to experience the campus life is to join the Marshall MBA ambassador program where one can visit a class along with a first year student and enjoy a guided tour of the Popovich hall, the main building of the campus.  A nice video about the full time MBA course and some campus views is available on the USC Marshall Web link http://www.marshall.usc.edu/mba/admissions/visit.

Whether entrepreneurship and innovation can be taught, remains an unresolved question. But business schools like USC Marshall which are consistently churning our future leaders and successful entrepreneurs seem to be winning the debate as of now.

January 7, 2014

Importance of Organization Change Management (OCM) in large programs.

In the context of programs that involve fundamental change in the IT delivery model for clients, the focus on organization change management (OCM) required or the scale and the coverage required for the exercise is usually overlooked.

Most customers tend to rely on the deal consultants who have advisory services to address the OCM requirements. Usually the answer is," Yes", we have factored in the need for the change and we have an internal team working on it along with our HR.

Most sales people do not factor in OCM as a part of the solution. The sales team does not push to add an OCM component fearing the increases in the deal cost.

This mind set and approach usually result in a poorly designed organization structure and an eco system, including the business, which poorly understands the new delivery model and has incorrect expectations.

While the business case would be met both on the client side and the vendor side at the start of the deal, the misalignment of  new organization structure results in operational pains that has the potential to derail the business case on both sides resulting in statements like "I knew that this would not work for us. This was a cost cutting mechanism that failed for us ...". "The client organization is unreasonable..". "The internal staff is not aligned with management and has wrecked this initiative..."

Based on my experience from multiple deals, following are anecdotal situations during transition

  1. Surprised Business user --> I am used to calling Joe to get this resolved.... now I have to call and log a ticket?
  2. IT manager with expectation mismatch --> I need a resource with X years of experiences in this skill and this technology and to be located in this town like how I had in my team before!!
  3. IT manager in the retained organization with misalignment of capabilities and role  Not ready to manage vendor but wants to be hands on and manage work instead of monitoring and measuring results.
  4. Staffing mismatch by vendor --> Resource mix and experience is changed to accommodate the reality of the retained structure or in some cases this adjustment does not happen resulting in addition friction.
  5. New governance is not adequately adjusted to the change

In an organization that changes the way IT has been delivered from an in-house organization to a vendor managed organization or to a completely outsourced organization, each stakeholder will wake up to a new world the day the transition is complete. If the stake holders, whether it be the CIO, the IT manager, the Business VP or the end user,  are not oriented and have an training of what to expect and how to operate in the new environment then the chance of the program and the business case being met will be jeopardized and the business potentially impacted.

The key to success is to plan for the change ahead of time. Budget for the change management exercise. Involve the vendor in the change management exercise and not treat the vendor as a piece of puzzle that will fit in. The change management required will depend significantly on the model being proposed by the vendor and the organization structure that the vendor is proposing/building as a part of the solution. This will potentially be different for each vendor and is not a one size fits all vendor. Involve the business and the end users in the communication and the training.

Paying close attention to the structure of the retained organization and the skill set of the resources that will be part of the retained organization is key.  A manager who is highly technical may not fit the role of a retained vendor manager even though s/he may have deep expertise in the underlying technology but may not be able to manage and coordinate geographically dispersed vendor teams. The change requires that the role transform from a "Responsible" to an "Accountable" role. To add clarity, earlier the manager was responsible and accountable for the delivery of the IT function using his/her teams.  In the new scheme of the organization, the manager is still accountable but the vendor teams are responsible for delivery and the client manager has to manage this using a set of pre determined KPIs and vendor management/governance mechanism. This change is not easy and often times require that a new person handle the role.

A regular and well defined process is required to ensure that the organization has the ability to train and orient a new employee to the delivery model.  A periodic refresher in the initial years of the journey would help to align the entire initiative to the goals set out during the start of the program. Creating a potential set of scenarios that might arise in the new way of working and understanding the potential workflows and governance required for it will ensure that both sides understand how each other would react in some of these tough situations.

Understanding the vendor model and the vendor organization's proposed solution is very important. The level, role and the internal KPI of the key vendor resources deployed will play a crucial role in the success of the engagement. Ensuring that there is alignment of  these to the KPIs of the initiative is very important.

Summary of key takeaways

  1. Incorporate OCM right from the beginning
  2. Involve all stakeholders including business
  3. Design the retained organization with care and select the right people
  4. Involve the vendor in the retained organization definition
  5. Define goals and KPIs on both sides
  6. Conduct refreshers periodically during the initial years
  7. The client must understand the KPI of the vendor key resources
  8. Prepare and play out some of the scenarios ahead of time
     

 

May 7, 2013

What is your Business Case for Big Data

For any new trend or technology to be adopted in Enterprise there is a tendency to build a business case on the ROI or TCO model, justifying the cost and the potential returns that can be expected. While this is certainly a strategy that worked for so long for organizations, especially when the technology and the business problems were predicatable e.g. Packaged implementation of a CRM in which both process, technology are known & proven industry wide in each vertical domains.

Continue reading "What is your Business Case for Big Data" »

January 2, 2013

Forecast for 2013 - Cloudy with a chance of greater adoption

Another year went by and there have been predictions, predictions and more predictions. Predictions are important as they set the tone for the ecosystem as a whole. In the Information Technology space, sometimes these predictions have even changed the course of the future as they served as a "guiding star" to new methodologies, frameworks, models and approaches to help businesses solve their problems and reap greater benefits leveraging IT.

The Top 5 buzz words (in general, though you may not agree to all of them) last year were Cloud, Mobility, Big-Data, Social Media and Smartphones.

Continue reading "Forecast for 2013 - Cloudy with a chance of greater adoption" »

December 31, 2012

Business precedence in IT programs

There is always an underlying power struggle going on in IT implementations between Business and  IT teams, but does that have to be the case every time? Mostly the business teams lost earlier, but now there has been a paradigm shift- organizations & System Integrators (SI) have started to acknowledge the importance of the business opinion in IT programs, as they are the ones who are going to use it in the end after all!

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July 2, 2012

Butterfly Effect: Analytics and Social media

Posted by Varun Chhibber, Associate Consultant, MFGCSI- Digital Transformation Practice, Infosys

Recent posts by Priya Thampi had me thinking about the fascinating world of Analytics. Social media explosion has given an altogether different twist to the saga and the organizations today have very powerful tools at their disposal to gauge the pulse of the consumers.

Analytics earlier was confined to the boundaries of structured data (tables, charts etc.) and then came Social media! It brought along with it an avalanche of unstructured data and since then organizations have been struggling to grapple with the new found realities and needs of the latest social media rampage.

Continue reading "Butterfly Effect: Analytics and Social media" »

June 21, 2012

The Challenge of Business Requirements vs. Business Processes

Guest Post By,

Michael Aston, Senior Technology Architect , MFG ADT Online, Infosys

Every so often I come across a project where the scope is to produce a like-for-like replacement of an existing system.  I'll tell you right now, these projects are doomed to failure.

These projects occur for a number of reasons.  Perhaps an existing product is no longer supported, or perhaps the business is trying to consolidate on to fewer technology platforms.  In some cases the drive it to reduce recurring costs, in others the lure of a new technology has been irresistible.  No matter the originating factor, they display the same barriers to success.

Firstly, in these projects the users aren't complaining about the existing system.  It's a familiar beast, warts and all, and they're in their comfort zone using it.  It's become the technology equivalent of your favourite armchair; maybe it's a bit scruffy and the cushions don't match, but woe betide anyone who suggests replacing it.

Secondly, the existing system will have been around for a while.  Given long enough, people will adapt to anything and the alternatives will no longer seem viable[1].  In the case of established software, business processes mould themselves to fit the tools available, accommodating their quirks and peculiarities.

Continue reading "The Challenge of Business Requirements vs. Business Processes" »

June 11, 2012

Tying the Traditional Buying Decision Process to Ecommerce

Posted by Varun Chhibber, Associate Consultant, MFGCSI- Digital Transformation Practice, Infosys

Ecommerce is still in its infancy in the manufacturing space as compared to other domains. Although the situation is improving and players are coming out with some innovative strategies to hook the consumers to the bandwagon.

I was pondering over the different facets of ecommerce and thought about tying the traditional & digital world together. As i went deeper I discovered that both these worlds are quite similar in terms of consumer buying behavior, although the tools that are used to influence the buying decision are vastly different.

Continue reading "Tying the Traditional Buying Decision Process to Ecommerce" »

April 26, 2012

Web Content Management Tailored to Manufacturer's Needs

Guest Post by Varun Chhibber, Associate Consultant, MFGCSI- Digital Transformation Practice, Infosys

Web content management is the process of managing the content to be consumed over various online channels with the help of various tools. It is known by many names such as Web experience management, Web engagement management, Customer experience platform etc.

Continue reading "Web Content Management Tailored to Manufacturer's Needs" »

February 23, 2012

What happened to the Good Old Manufacturing? : Part 2

Guest Post by Varun Chhibber, Associate Consultant, MFG-ADT Online, Infosys

 

In my previous post I touched upon the recent trends in outsourcing of manufacturing and the main reasons cited by firms to outsource.

The road to outsourcing was not that easy, outsourcing faced a lot of opposition, as it was understandable also. Everything cannot be and should not be outsourced. For example it makes sense to outsource the production of an iPhone, but its designing, marketing etc. are still kept in-house. It is a decision that manufacturers have to take keeping in mind many factors.

Continue reading "What happened to the Good Old Manufacturing? : Part 2" »

February 6, 2012

What happened to the Good Old Manufacturing? - Part 1

Guest Post by Varun Chhibber, Associate Consultant, MFG-ADT Online, Infosys

 

Recently there has been a lot of hue and cry over the outsourcing and the job losses that followed. Major companies have been accused of exporting jobs to Asian countries such as China when there has been an ever increasing need of job creation in their native countries. To this companies argue that they are creating a lot of jobs indirectly by creating opportunities and if the jobs are not moved to save efficiencies, eventually it will lead to further job losses!

Continue reading "What happened to the Good Old Manufacturing? - Part 1" »

January 30, 2012

Crisis Management in the Times of Global Manufacturing Supply Chains

Guest Post by Varun Chhibber, Associate Consultant, MFG-ADT Online, Infosys

 

Crisis management has been the biggest bane for the manufacturers in the recent past. Manufacturing industry suffered from one crisis after another last year. First it was Japan earthquake and then Thailand floods.

The Japan Crisis caused major supply constraints for global automotive industry resulting in poor capacity utilization of plants, long waiting times, cancellation of orders etc. Similarly during the Thailand crisis many manufacturers were forced to shut down production or cut back the output due to disruption in supply of critical parts.

 

Continue reading "Crisis Management in the Times of Global Manufacturing Supply Chains" »