Data Arteries – Enabling Business Strategy Through Information Technology

Regardless of size and industry, every enterprise is dependent upon information technology, and must have a strategy for how to employ it, especially as the internet becomes more pervasive. Information technology strategy is an enabler of business strategy. Not only must an enterprise manage relationships with its constituencies, but it must be able to connect with them electronically through data arteries – information supply, value, and demand chains. The information supply and demand chains are external; the information value chains are internal.

An information technology strategy is a special case functional strategy because every function in the enterprise requires electronic information delivery capabilities, and many require electronic process control also. In very large enterprises, strategy may be formulated at both the enterprise and organizational unit levels.

As websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Plaxo, and Twitter become more pervasive in business, linkages between application systems and databases and social networking websites will be more important to enable constituencies to communicate both collaboratively and cooperatively. Just as email has become a primary method of communication between enterprises and their constituencies, so will social networking sites especially for advertising and ecommerce.

Business intelligence information can be used to identify opportunities for competitive advantage. However, information technology itself can be an enabler of competitive advantage, especially when there are opportunities to digitize products or deliver information products electronically. In such cases, business strategy is inseparable from information technology strategy.

Information technology comprises the analytical and operational application systems, databases, and technical infrastructure (hardware and networks) of an enterprise. Not all computer technologies are information based. Computer technology is used for process control applications in special purpose equipment. However, connectivity is essential as applications become more integrated. As digital construction and manufacturing practices develop through such technologies as computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM), the processes, the control of processes, and the products and/or services delivered by processes all rely upon information technology for connectivity.

For example, in the manufacturing industry, not only can design and manufacturing work be conducted through integrated CAD/CAM processes with electronic linkages to carriers, such as FedEx and UPS, but the entire project and process management activities can be monitored electronically from ideation to product delivery.

Through technologies such as electronic data interchange and electronic funds transfer, data and both digital and information products flow through information supply and demand chains in parallel to material supply and product and/or service demand chains. Within the enterprise, data flows through information value chains from supply chains and to demand chains.

Developing an information technology strategy document is essential for describing the requirements and for educating users because:

  • The impact is enterprise or organizational unit wide and other elements of strategy cannot be implemented without it
  • Administrative activities, such as legal, finance, and human resources, and operational activities, such as research and development, procurement, manufacturing or equivalent, distribution, marketing, sales, and service depend on information technology – analytical and operational systems support both administrative and operational functions
  • The time frames, expenditures, risks, and magnitude of efforts are usually larger and more complicated than other initiatives and must be clearly understood; information technology projects have a tendency to go out of control and under deliver – therefore, contingency plans are always necessary
  • The subject matter can be complicated if not well explained

Information technology strategy is usually packaged as a separate but related document to the strategic plan. It is deployed and executed through specific programs and projects that develop new or enhance or maintain existing application systems, databases, and technical infrastructure.

Large information technology development projects are usually cross-functional, and may be part of a broader initiative sponsored by multiple functions collectively. Broader initiatives that have information technology components include:

  • Market research and development
  • Product research and development
  • Infrastructure research and development for processes and information delivery

For example – for the development of a:

  • Digital manufacturing system integrating both research and development and sales and production activities (sponsors: Manufacturing and Sales functions – impact is on Research and Development, Procurement, Manufacturing, Distribution, Sales, and Service functions)
  • Financial, managerial, and regulatory accounting and reporting system (sponsor: Finance function – impact is enterprise wide)
  • Human resource management system (sponsor: Human Resources function – impact is enterprise wide)
  • Sales tracking system (sponsor: Sales function – impact is on all salespeople enterprise wide)

Some projects can be solely for the Information Technology function, in which case it is a customer of itself.

Steering committees should be established for major programs and projects representing the various impacted functions in order to resolve cross-functional barriers. Major programs should come under the review of a planning and policy committee at the enterprise level.

Information technology strategy formulation is a project in its own right at the enterprise or organizational unit level. Very large projects are grouped as a program of inter-related components under a program manager. Projects can be stand alone also. A single project can deliver one or more application systems and related databases and technical infrastructure, or multiple projects may be required depending upon complexity.

For example, when launching a new product, it may be necessary to conduct marketing, product, and infrastructure development projects that include the delivery of new systems, and upgrades to existing systems. However, if an addition to the product line is launched at a later time, a new project or set of projects may be required to enhance or maintain the current systems, or even develop new ones.

The work breakdown structure for downstream development, enhancement, and maintenance projects decomposes into planning, analysis, design, construction, implementation, and performance measurement phases. The performance measurement phase can be conducted in parallel with the other phases, and each must end with a performance review. A feedback loop to future planning activities must be established so that lessons learned from the past can be reflected in future initiatives.

Meeting the cost and schedule requirements is always a major consideration. Hence, “meeting the date” is a frequent requirement for project success. However, after implementation, the scope of what was delivered and its quality is usually remembered more than when. In anticipation of the need to make changes after implementation, an adaption project may be necessary to tune, standardize, and integrate the deliverables.

The planning phase is conducted at the enterprise, organizational unit, or program levels for one or more projects depending upon size and complexity. However, each application system and related databases and technical infrastructure is delivered through a project with distinct analysis, design, construction, and implementation phases. Each phase always begins with a detailed planning activity to ensure that resources are allocated appropriately. The work breakdown structure does not preclude the use of iterative methodologies within each phase for rapid application development and prototyping. Development, enhancement, and maintenance of websites can be very rapid, and heavily interactive with user involvement, when the appropriate tools are used.

Key questions and deliverables by information technology strategy project and downstream phases include:

Strategy project (enterprise and organizational unit levels):

Key questions:

  • How does information technology enable business strategy?
  • What are the investment priorities?

Deliverables include:

  • Information technology architecture (applications, data and databases, and technical infrastructure)
  • High level project phasing and plans

Planning phase (enterprise, organizational unit, and program levels):

Key questions:

  • What are the administrative functions’ systems and information needs?
  • What are the operational functions’ systems and information needs?
  • What are the priorities for the candidate analytical systems?
  • What are the priorities for the candidate operational systems?

Deliverables include:

  • Process models
  • Function models
  • Data models
  • Information models
  • Economic evaluation
  • Scope of analysis projects and schedules

Analysis phase (project level):

Key questions:

  • How do processes, functions, and systems fit together?
  • How do systems processes and functions relate to enterprise processes and functions?
  • How do systems processes and functions and enterprise processes and functions fit together?

Deliverables include:

  • Functional requirements
  • Economic evaluation
  • Scope of design projects and schedules

Design phase (project level):

Key questions (by system):

  • What are the system’s functional requirements?
  • What are the system’s technical requirements?
  • What is the total cost of ownership and benefits (tangible and intangible)?

Deliverables include (by system):

  • Application system specifications
  • Data and database specifications
  • Technical infrastructure specifications
  • Scope of construction project and schedule
  • Total cost of ownership/benefit analysis

Construction phase (project level):

Key questions (by system):

  • Is the system being constructed according to design?
  • If not, what change orders are required, and why?

Deliverables include (by system):

  • Tested application system and interfaces, databases, and technical infrastructure
  • Trained users

Implementation phase (project level):

Key questions (by system):

  • What are the costs and schedule relative to plan?
  • What is the scope relative to plan?
  • What is the quality relative to plan
  • When will the benefits be realized relative to plan?
  • What adjustments for tuning, standardization, and integration are required relative to plan?
  • What are the current anticipated enhancement requests?
  • What are the current anticipated maintenance requests?
  • What are the lessons learned for the future?

Deliverables include (by system):

  • Working application system and interfaces, databases, and technical infrastructure
  • List of enhancement requests
  • List of maintenance requests
  • Performance measurement report

As enterprises become more dependent upon the internet for connectivity with constituencies, it is essential to develop, enhance, and maintain the information technology strategy on an ongoing basis. The strategy must emphasize connectivity through the data arteries as digital and information products become more pervasive.

Formulating information technology strategy is an enterpriship (entrepreneurship, leadership, and management) competency.

Even Information Technology Hobbies Can Spawn Hard Cold Cash!

Now that you are familiar with the internet you could transform your experience into an even more satisfactory situation by finding a way to integrate your hobby into a profitable business. This article will suggest some things you can do to achieve this goal,

As it turns out, the world wide web is an excellent place to offer how-to instructions to give others the ability to achieve their goals using tools and materials within their hobbies. This does not apply to every one. Some buyers are satisfied with the consequences of your effort and may enjoy your hobby’s outcome and make a purchase based on items of interest or as works of art instead of how-to accomplish the same results.

Investigate any book sellers outlet and notice how many people are spending money on learning more about their hobbies. Take a look at the book shelves and notice the large number of books devoted to various hobbies. Your conclusion should surely center itself around the idea of how the hobby industry is a big business.

There are many kinds of formats that information can be delivered in. These kinds can be sold as videos, eBooks, hard copies, streaming audio and video, and many more forms of information.

The hottest commodity on the internet today is probably information and information related to hobbies is – most likely – the best category to consider profiting from. It would be easy for you to quickly create a simple how-to information product based on your knowledge of your hobby and publish your results on the internet. You could – concurrently – set up an automated system to receive the money and deliver the final product to the customer.

Or, You might feel better handling tangible products that you sell through websites like eBay and take care of all of the billing arrangements yourself – along with shipping your products manually and handling refunds. In any case, you will discover a long list of niches to select from in the world of hobby materials and products.

Since anything you can do can be turned into a hobby like maybe building a working robot from a fully equipped LEGO set to finding new algorithms to solve toy helicopter auto flight problems. Some hobbies are way out of the ball park but spur people’s interest, like finding ways to automate your appliances so that they call a service provider when they detect problems in their performance – long before they actually fail.

It is important to keep your focus as narrow as possible. Write about a particular model of various 3D printers on the market. Instead of speaking about the operation of a 3D printer in general, talk about how to operate one particular model to produce 3d favorite pet figures.

Considering the possibility that your hobby resides in the information technology field, then you can make money by writing a how-to guide on setting up your own 3D printer or how to make 3D replicas of your site visitors pets. You could also write an information product showing others how to make a profit by using their 3D printer hobby.

To reach the right consumers who would be interested in your product you need to spend time gathering effective keywords that favorably point to your offer. This effort should come long before you devote any time to developing marketing material.

How to Create Your Own Information Technology Resume

Creating your own Information Technology resume is really all about putting down all the right information for the position that the hiring manager may be looking for. But it is only easy if you have the training and experience that the employer is looking for. Here are the areas that you should be focusing on when writing your own Information Technology resume.

Objective
Your objective should be short and simple. To create your own Information Technology resume simply tell the hiring manager what you want to get out of the positions. For example, you may want to “obtain a position as a Network Infrastructure Engineer that will utilize your previous experience working with Cisco routers.” Now this is a very good objective. It is a one line goal that you communicated to the employer telling them what you want to do.

Skills
There are a lot of skill sets when it comes to being in the Information Technology industry. Employers make it sound like they are looking for specific skill sets and that is partially true. But they also understand that it is going to be very difficult to find a single person that has every single desired skill. If they do, that person is normally over qualified. So if you are writing your own IT resume, apply for positions where you have most of the skill sets. Being close is better than not applying at all. It never hurts to go for it.

Experience
When creating your own Information Technology resume, list your most resent employer first and proceed to the next most resent. List the years that you worked for them and give a short description about your job duties. If you are applying for an entry level Information Technology position, go ahead and give a short list of previous employers along with the job titles. But you do not need to give any details about the job descriptions. They are not going to matter.

Education
Professionals in the IT industry can have a variety of educational backgrounds. Some professionals go to college and obtain degrees while other professionals choose to study and test for specific certifications. Some of the hot certification available to professions can be the Cisco, Nortel, and Microsoft certification. You can use these certifications when you create your own Information Technology resume.

When writing your own Information Technology resume all you need to do is put together an resume that gives the hiring manager a quick and simple perspective about what you can bring to the table.