These information technologies may be boring but can provide significant business benefits
What are some information technologies that a value-focused Chief Information Offiver (CIO) should keep talking about even though they’re not generating much buzz? In search of the latest and greatest technology developments or the latest over-valued technology of a pre-IPO (Initial Public Offering) unicorn, media pundits move on to new topics all too quickly.
Here are a few proven information technologies that have delivered value and will continue to deliver value. These technologies are no longer the recipients of breathless excitement in media coverage. As a pragmatic CIO, you can become a hero by identifying opportunities to drive more value from these technologies while forcing others to stifle their yawns. Here are some examples to consider.
Business processes are fickle and finicky. As an organization grows, restructures or makes acquisitions, processes that were once sleek and efficient become encrusted with excess complexity, take too long and start to cause avoidable rework. As new production or distribution technologies emerge and information technologies mature, new opportunities for business process improvement become worthwhile. As a result, business process improvement possibilities are almost endless, even though talking about them often elicits a bored yawn.
Where a CIO encourages initiatives in business process management (BPM) with its supporting software packages, the business value for improved customer service and reduced operating costs will be significant.
The advent of Big Data and data analytics to make sense of all that data has exposed horrible data quality problems in the data that many organizations collect. Talking about data management is often seen as boring because there’s no single, irrefutable, big win. However, hundreds or thousands of small data quality wins can deliver a significant improvement.
CIOs that promote data management initiatives create business value by avoiding losing capital investments and reducing the cost of winning investments. Better data management improves data stewardship, adopts a single view of data, and moves toward a data-driven decision-making process.
Supervisor Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) has been used for so long to control major industrial facilities. Examples include oil refineries, petrochemical plants, electrical power generation stations, and assembly lines. SCADA is so widely implemented that it’s become boring.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) is a significant advance over relatively expensive SCADA. IIOT relies on dramatically cheaper components, including sensors, networks, storage and computing resources. As a result, IIOT is feasible in many smaller facilities where SCADA isn’t. At larger facilities, IIOT offers a considerable increase in data points for no incremental cost.
Where a CIO urges broader adoption of IIOT to improve manufacturing quality, reduce expensive unscheduled outages and improve safety, the business value to customer satisfaction through on-time delivery of quality products will be significant.
Most organizations have now implemented Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to the point that talking about ERP is seen as boring. Tragically, many organizations are using only a tiny fraction of the ERP software capabilities they’re paying for.
Where a CIO recommends broader adoption of the ERP software to improve business processes, data integration and data quality, the business value of accelerating business growth through better decision-making based on improved collaboration and better data will be significant. This value can be achieved without spending a dime more on software licensing.
Simulation is a technology that has been applied to many situations for years. Digital twins are elaborate simulations of complex facilities that are a crucial tool for optimizing operations, planning upgrades and significant maintenance. The value of digital twins is reduced elapsed time and, therefore, the cost of plant turnarounds.
Aircraft pilot and nuclear power station operation training are perhaps the most widely known examples of simulations. In business, simulations can upgrade employee training courses from boring to engaging by adding significant animation or more video components. The learning value increases when simulations include real-time feedback, as in many video games, including the Jetfighter simulation series.
Where a CIO endorses broader adoption of simulation applications to improve the performance of facilities and employees, the business value to safety. cost and customer service will be high.
Design for manufacturability (DFM) is about designing products that are easier and often cheaper to manufacture. DFM analyzes labour hours, assembly skills, material types and weight, and machining tolerances. Because the DFM concept has been in use for decades, it’s seen as a boring practice that offers no further benefits.
However, DFM can continue to add value with advanced design software, 3D printing and new materials such as advanced plastics and composites. When a CIO presses for broader adoption of DFM with its supporting software, the result is improved manufacturing processes with significant cost benefits that don’t compromise quality.
CIOs can champion the expanded use of proven information technologies that have delivered value and will continue to deliver value. This idea is often low risk, low cost and can provide high business benefits.
By Yogi Schulz
Yogi Schulz has over 40 years of information technology experience in various industries. Yogi works extensively in the petroleum industry. He manages projects that arise from changes in business requirements, the need to leverage technology opportunities, and mergers. His specialties include IT strategy, web strategy and project management.