Wednesday Oct 24, 2012

Let your Signature Experience drive IT decision making

Today’s CIO job description: ‘’Align IT infrastructure and solutions with business goals and objectives ; AND while doing so reduce costs; BUT ALSO, be innovative, ensure the architectures are adaptable and agile as we need to act today on the changes that we may request tomorrow.”

Sound like an unachievable request? The fact is, reality dictates that CIO’s are put under this type of pressure to deliver more with less.

In a past career phase I spent a few years as an IT Relationship Manager for a large Insurance company. This is a role that we see all too infrequently in many of our customers, and it’s a shame. The purpose of this role was to build a bridge, a relationship between IT and the business. Key to achieving that goal was to ensure the same language was being spoken and more importantly that objectives were commonly understood - hence service and projects were delivered to time, to budget and actually solved the business problems.

In reality IT and the business are already married, but the relationship is most often defined as ‘supplier’ of IT rather than a ‘trusted partner’. To deliver business value they need to understand how to work together effectively to attain this next level of partnership. The Business cannot compete if they do not get a new product to market ahead of the competition, or for example act in a timely manner to address a new industry problem such as a legislative change. An even better example is when the Application or Service fails and the Business takes a hit by bad publicity, being trending topics on social media and losing direct revenue from online channels.

For this reason alone Business and IT need the alignment of their priorities and deliverables now more than ever! Take a look at Forrester’s recent study that found ‘many IT respondents considering themselves to be trusted partners of the business but their efforts are impaired by the inadequacy of tools and organizations’.

IT Meet the Business; Business Meet IT

So what is going on? We talk about aligning the business with IT but the reality is it’s difficult to do. Like any relationship each side has different goals and needs and language can be a barrier; business vs. technology jargon! What if we could translate the needs of both sides into actionable information, backed by data both sides understand, presented in a meaningful way? Well now we can with the Business-Driven Application Management capabilities in Oracle Enterprise Manager 12cR2!

Enterprise Manager’s Business-Driven Application Management capabilities provide the information that IT needs to understand the impact of its decisions on business criteria. No longer does IT need to be focused solely on speeds and feeds, performance and throughput – now IT can understand IT’s impact on business KPIs like inventory turns, order-to-cash cycle, pipeline-to-forecast, and similar. Similarly, now the line of business can understand which IT services are most critical for the KPIs they care about.

There are a good deal of resources on Oracle Technology Network that describe the functionality of these products, so I won’t’ rehash them here. What I want to talk about is what you do with these products.

What’s next after we meet?

Where do you start?

Step 1: Identify the Signature Experience. This is THE business process (or set of processes) that is core to the business, the one that drives the economic engine, the process that a customer recognises the company brand for, reputation, the customer experience, the process that a CEO would state as his number one priority. The crème de la crème of your business! Once you have nailed this it gets easy as Enterprise Manager 12c makes it easy.

Step 2: Map the Signature Experience to underlying IT. Taking the signature experience, map out the touch points of the components that play a part in ensuring this business transaction is successful end to end, think of it like mapping out a critical path; the applications, middleware, databases and hardware. Use the wealth of Enterprise Manager features such as Systems, Services, Business Application Targets and Business Transaction Management (BTM) to assist you. Adding Real User Experience Insight (RUEI) into the mix will make the end to end customer satisfaction story transparent. Work with the business and define meaningful key performance indicators (KPI’s) and thresholds to enable you to report and action upon.

Step 3: Observe the data over time. You now have meaningful insight into every step enabling your signature experience and you understand the implication of that experience on your underlying IT. Watch if for a few months, see what happens and reconvene with your business stakeholders and set clear and measurable targets which can re-define service levels.

Step 4: Change the information about which you and the business communicate. It’s amazing what happens when you and the business speak the same language. You’ll be able to make more informed business and IT decisions. From here IT can identify where/how budget is spent whether on the level of support, performance, capacity, HA, DR, certification etc. IT SLA’s no longer need be focused on metrics such as %availability but structured around business process requirements.

The power of this way of thinking doesn’t end here. IT staff get to see and understand how their own role contributes to the business making them accountable for the business service. Take a step further and appraise your staff on the business competencies that are linked to the service availability.

For the business, the language barrier is removed by producing targeted reports on the signature experience core to the business and therefore key to the CEO. Chargeback or show back becomes easier to justify as the ‘cost of day per outage’ can be more easily calculated; the business will be able to translate the cost to the business to the cost/value of the underlying IT that supports it.

Used this way, Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c is a key enabler to a harmonious relationship between the end customer the business and IT to deliver ultimate service and satisfaction.

Just engage with the business upfront, make the signature experience visible and let Enterprise Manager 12c do the rest.

In the next blog entry we will cover some of the Enterprise Manager features mentioned to enable you to implement this new way of working.

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