Ideas to get your business on target

Ideas to get your business on target

Hit me when I’m down – The gloves are off in cyber attacks

Tags: , , , , , , , , Advance, Advice, Assure, CIO, Organization, Strategy
photo credit: Evil Erin via photopin cc

photo credit: Evil Erin via photopin cc

We all know in boxing that you cannot hit below the belt as well as hit someone when they are on the canvas. Sadly, in the world of IT security and hackers there are no such rules. Watching the recent real world events in the banking world, we have seen a number of banks hit with cyber attacks in the run up to the Christmas period.  Consumers relying on payments and being able to make purchases have been disrupted, dare I say, yet again. Poor old RBS group and especially NatWest seem to have taken the brunt of the hits in the past weeks (NatWest, Ulster Bank)
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Automation of Consulting and Decision Making Processes

Tags: , , , , , Advance, Advice, Assess, Process Design, Strategy
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.

Read the rest of the article at our sister blog Strategy4IT: http://www.strategy4it.com/automation-of-consulting-and-decision-making-processes/

Disruptive Technologies and Business Models in the Banking Sector

Tags: , , , Strategy

 

photo credit: Yogendra174 via photopin cc

photo credit: Yogendra174 via photopin cc

Just recently, I was in discussions with a mutual friend whose role was to examine the effects of disruptive and revolutionary technology for a large, German engineering firm. It speaks volumes for this firm that they are far sighted enough to look at this and to even employ a small team to consider how market trends could affect them in the coming years. His current project involves analysing the effects of 3D printing technology and the rise of micro manufacturing on this global giant; questions like how they could embrace the oncoming changes and what areas need adjusting are openly debated and built into their strategic planning.

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If It’s Not Broken, Don’t Fix It

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BrokenFrom a business perspective the saying “if it is not broken don’t fix it” is often applied to IT.  Finding the investment to keep up with the market can be a challenge, and it is often tempting to just avoid any efforts or costs of an upgrade.  Even on our mobile phones we all fear that notification that a new version is available and hit the upgrade button with trepidation; not knowing if the app will successfully install or worse, the whole phone dies.  When applied in the business enterprise that trepidation translates into an inertia to upgrade that can become a massive penalty down the line as the gap to the latest version opens up.  This gets worse as the enterprise gets larger and the decision making more centralised.

Disasters Don’t Always Happen In One Hit – Are You Prepared For Escalation?

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photo credit: barryskeates via photopin cc

photo credit: barryskeates via photopin cc

When we think of this day in 2001, everyone’s mind naturally turns to the devastation caused across the world. A day that caused irreplaceable amounts of human loss; and on it’s 12th anniversary I’m reminded of the effect the disaster took in wider terms. When I remember the days of trauma that followed I also remember our struggles to support the business and keep it running. Our biggest challenge was Diesel – but what does that have to do with IT?

In an emergency the data centre will run on backup power from diesel generators – it will last a day. Most business people will not even be aware of this kind of fail-over; in the worst case the data centre will shut down. Planning for orderly shut down (see our previous blog) is an essential part of BCP in the real world. In practice, catastrophic failure is unusual, there is often a long protracted disaster in the making.

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Operational Risk and BCP

Assess, Assure, Data Centre, Process Design, Strategy
photo credit: rcbodden via photopin cc

photo credit: rcbodden via photopin cc

There is nothing like learning from mistakes and experience.  Strategy and process design is best grounded in the reality of experience.  I would like to share a real story of an incident that I remember to often when looking at plans and remind myself that there is always more than the obvious to learn when things go wrong. On the surface this story has one key learning point but digging deeper revealed three.

A major trading organisation data centre loses their air con system to one of the two chillers that cool the data centre.  Most people even in IT are not aware that air con is as fundamental as power in data centres. Put simply, 10,000 servers produce a lot of heat.   In this case the temperature in the cabinets furthest from the working units reached 120 degrees Celsius – despite emergency fans being added to circulate the air and direct the hot air to the cooler end.  120 degrees – oven temperature!  To keep temperatures down all non essential systems had to be shut down, all live BCP running was removed to reduce load and as many as possible MIS and other non core transaction processing systems had to be shut down; as the incident constitutes an emergency.

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Out of Control Projects

Tags: , , Advice, Assess, Business
photo credit: wwarby via photopin cc

photo credit: wwarby via photopin cc

While writing the previous true story about the real world of IT financing, I was inspired to share another horror story that I’ve encountered in my years in IT. It begins with being sent in to sort out a major counterparty risk project in one of the banks that was supposed to be delivering a solution for Basel 2 compliance.  What the project was is probably irrelevant to the story but anyone spending money on a project that at that point had been running for 18 months and not delivering anything – spending in excess of 10 million Euros per annum – must ask serious questions.  It quickly became clear that the project had only 4 internal staff with more than 50 externals.  Cynically, one could say that the externals were milking the programme for whatever they could get.  Slashing the project to 15 people delivered more in 6 months than 60 people had in 18.  Adding a proper steering committee and asking real questions rather than the previous “nodding dogs” meant real focus on value for money.

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Ten Questions To Ask Your IT Department

Tags: , , , , , Business, CIO, Strategy
photo credit: Defence Images via photopin cc

photo credit: Defence Images via photopin cc

Following on from my previous blog about a near disaster, the following are ten questions to ask your IT department about how they run their finances, and may come in useful when planning an IT strategy.

IT managers hate finances. Ask any IT person what they think about accountants and accounting and you will probably get a very rude answer.  Let’s face it, technical people do not like to ask questions about money, they just want to get on with projects, solutions and technology.  In many firms the CIO or CTO is promoted to a level where they have control over significant spend but the promotion is often based on their technical knowledge as much as management capability.  Maybe 30 per cent of any spend in a firm can be concentrated directly and indirectly these days in IT or systems related service – so ignoring money is not an option. Not having strong governance over how money is spent on IT is a risk to the firms bottom line.

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The Real World of IT Financing – A True Story

Tags: , , , , , , , , Assess, Business, Strategy, Uncategorized
photo credit: Steve Snodgrass via photopin cc

photo credit: Steve Snodgrass via photopin cc

Inspired by recent projects being undertaken by cibsys, I started thinking about some war stories I have heard through the years. The following blog post looks at an example of what could and does go wrong if you don’t ask important questions about IT financials.

The outline of the story was to resolve an IT budget crisis, where the COO was forecasting 10% over, dealing with figures in excess of ten million. In other words, there was a pressing need for fast remedial action to prevent disaster.  The regional CIO was a brilliant technical lead with fantastic ideas, who delivered amazing software surrounded by like-minded technical staff.  The one lonely voice in his management team who was screaming to be heard was his business manager who could see the pending crisis of budget and funding but was not being listened to.  The reality was that the forecast was way off, there was no real spend tracking and that the ledgers actuals were so far behind the reality of spend that no one really knew what was being spent and where the money was going.   There was dire need for proper departmental financial controls and proper forecasting in addition to the basic ones in finance department.

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