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Here’s What’s on My Mind About Strategic Thinking – What’s on Yours?

Originally published February 27, 2007

In this first posting to the Strategic Thinking Channel here at the Business Intelligence Network, I want to take the opportunity to tell you what’s on my mind and what this channel is all about. I want this channel to complement the other experts here at the Business Intelligence Network. Thus, while there may be some overlap in topics, my goal is to provide context and specificity about strategic thinking on a range of topics, adding a perspective that is, I hope, strategic and practical. One of the wonderful things about the Business Intelligence Network is the range, depth, and experience of the many voices it presents. I’m proud to be one of them.

As professionals, we are always under pressure to deliver work and projects quickly and within budget. Often we decry having a short-term focus rather than building for the long term. We call this “tactical” rather than strategic. Actually, tactics are “any mode of procedure for gaining advantage or success” (Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1), so we act tactically when we have a clear picture of success. This is strategic thinking, and we need to apply it for long-term success.

Here are some areas where I have been applying strategic thinking with my clients and in my work:

I’ve been working the past few years observing the expansion and merging of everything into everything. I've often heard that business intelligence (BI) is no longer needed because a service-oriented architecture (SOA) solves everything. As one of my colleagues likes to say (when he wants to push one of my buttons), “With SOA you get BI for free.” He’s not correct, but he is also not entirely wrong. Likewise, those of us with a focus on BI and data delivery are not correct but also not entirely wrong when we point out that business problems would be solved with better and more reliable data. So, one topic you will see here soon is the convergence of BI and data delivery with SOA.

And, of course, data and how we manage it is on my mind as well. It seems that in spite of the importance of data management, we have never fully developed a concept of managed data. What would it be like if data were truly managed? We would have a managed data environment and be far better off for it. This is becoming possible and, interestingly enough, it is SOA that is an enabling factor for establishing a managed data environment. This is definitely something that will be explored in this channel.

Another example of what’s on my mind is how governance is proliferating. There’s governance of data, SOA functionality and services, and IT processes, to name just a few. These are set up independently of each other with no consideration of how they affect one another’s governance processes. How do we govern all that governance? This is another topic you can watch for.

Then there is master data. I know one BI specialist whose opinion I respect who thinks that master data is a passing fad, one that’s come and gone before in other guises. He knows he’s in the minority on this one, but his job is to spot trends in the technology industry – and he may be right. If he is, it will be because master data was treated as a technical problem rather than a business one. Master data, thinking strategically, is first and foremost a business problem. This is another topic I’m looking forward to sharing with you.

And what does all of this have to do with aligning BI and data delivery with applications and business needs? Alignment is another one of those buzzwords that is easy to grasp but difficult to translate into concrete action. Be that as it may, there is little doubt that the speed of business continues to increase, change is accelerating, and the responsive business needs to move quickly. This requires recognizing new business conditions and realigning business processes, information, and application functionality to adapt to them.

I could go on, but for now I hope you get the idea. I like to think about these issues because many business and IT leaders find messages from technical specialists, vendors, and market analysts to be confusing, contradictory, and, sometimes, claptrap. My mission for this channel is to clarify the hype surrounding business and technical issues, think strategically to determine important elements for success, and identify appropriate tactical approaches to apply. In other words, I want to help you to think strategically so your tactical actions are aligned with strategic goals.

I’ve shared some of what’s on my mind with you, and I’d love to hear what’s on your mind, too. Over the years I’ve learned that the real issues come from the front lines, those in the trenches dealing with real-world situations. That is why I’ve always placed such high value on interacting with my clients and helping them with their problems. I look forward to joining you in this channel regularly. Let me know what you are dealing with and I’ll do my best to provide insight. In the near future, I will set up a blog in this channel to converse about these and other topics. Until then you can e-mail at strategicthinking@rcgit.com.

SOURCE: Here’s What’s on My Mind About Strategic Thinking – What’s on Yours?

  • Richard SkriletzRichard Skriletz

    Richard is a manager and management consultant with more than 35 years experience working in large corporate and start-up environments. His professional focus is on the strategic application of information technology to improving operational performance, managing organizational and technical change, and optimizing business effectiveness. Richard is a Global Managing Principal with RCG Global Services and CEO of InfoNovus Technologies. He can be reached via email at Richard.Skriletz@rcggs.com.

    Editor's Note: You will find more articles and resources, and Richard's blog in his BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

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