söndag 25 juli 2021

The Big Shift


Interesting times

May you live in interesting times, is said to be a kind of ironic curse rather than well-wishing phrase.  Without a doubt, we all do, considering the rate of change, upheaval, and disruption going on in the world around us – in part due to technology development and adoption, in part due to the change in behaviour, culture and expectations inflicted as side-effects from the Corona pandemic.

Fingers crossed, we’ll see the restrictions and lock-down measures lifted gradually and the pandemic contagion decreasing with increased vaccination levels.  But some effects and shifts in values may have changed the world forever – especially in the labour market.  With the remote work and work from home office practices yielding just as good if not even better productivity, quality and results, the expectations and opportunities for employers as well as employees are shifting.

Changing with the times

Employees who feel that they have thrived under the more flexible working arrangements will seek similar conditions to continue working and collaborating with the option of going in to a central office from time to time.

Employers who see the benefit of high levels of productivity and potentially lower costs for office space will support and promote a flexible approach to working from anywhere.  In addition, in the extension – I believe this will be the starting point of a true globalization of the workforce where the type of services, roles and contributions required match the remote delivery and collaboration standardized during the last 18 months of the pandemic.  Employers who have the option to recruit the very cream of the crop regardless of geography, regardless of time zone or local presence will have a tremendous leverage in the market compared to businesses who limit themselves to a more local talent pool.  We’ve of course seen offshoring, outsourcing and talent sourcing with or without all kinds of international transfers, migration, secondments etc in the past – but all these flavours come with their own challenges, not to mention overhead administration and cost.

#TheBigShift looks to be great for employers, for businesses who already have pivoted to benefit from the formats of remote working – but employers are under similar pressures to compete for talent as talented employees are competing for certain positions or roles.  The good ones will find flexible ways to accomodate to new employee values, preferences and priorities in life.

Finding the right match

What should talented employees who seek to match with these companies be looking out for?  What will be the hallmarks of great places to work and nurturing, supporting organizations that match your dedication and passion?

-          The world is your oyster – whether you yearn to work for the very top global brands in your industry, or if you want to find the perfect match in a niche bespoke service business, you can take the time to find the right organization regardless of geography.

-          Look for an organization that aligns with your values in terms of impact in the world and internal culture – an employer that shares and promotes your personal values.  This makes for optimal opportunity to contribute in the right direction, and a long-term collaboration.

-          Look for flexibility and support – an organization that wants to develop and grow your skills as well as responsibilities.  Find ways of working and collaboration formats that fit your lifestyle and productivity patterns.

-          Last but not least, as with all things in life – a successful role and employment is dependent on personal relationships.  Make sure that you connect with a manager and team that has the right chemistry and constructive attitude – this, perhaps more than anything else, will give you the prerequisite foundations to be successful.

The keys to engagement

What should ambitious businesses that want to harness the talent and potential of high performing employees do to prepare and enable a flexible working environment?

-          Don’t let technology bog you down or become obstacles to accessing productive talented resources.  Enable flexible ways of working with different types of devices and remote access.  A modern workplace solution with efficient tools for collaboration is a no-brainer and a must-have to stay competitive.

-          Build for flexibility, but maintain security.  Trust, secure identity and access management, and robust connectivity for information management and transfer will distinguish businesses that thrive in the future from those who perish or struggle to compete.  Modern, cloud based infrastructure is the backbone to build such solutions on – and it’s still just getting started.

-          Be genuine.  The values, culture and behaviour in the organization will determine whether or not your employees maintain productivity and stay with the business for the long term.  This cannot be a quick-fix or late add-on to your organizational build – and needs to connect and align with your business model.  An active and engaged Corporate Responsibility agenda can be an excellent way to build awareness, community and sense of belonging.

A curse or not, I believe interesting times are ahead.  We’ll see new ways of working, collaborating, producing, communicating and creative deployment of technology to support our businesses and create value for the end Customers.  It’s challenging, energizing, motivating, and – interesting!


söndag 18 juli 2021

Leveraging the digital business in practice – continued


Before internet via optic fiber became standard, the telephone companies repurposed the copper wire lines to enable internet via ADSL. Old, regardless if it’s infrastructure, technology or information storage, doesn’t have to mean useless.

We can drive a cutting-edge electric car down a motorway originally built for polluting petrol or diesel fueled vehicles. In the context of data, this means that we have to harness and interconnect the treasure trove of information we already have at our disposal. We store and manage it, in separate systems, platforms and applications, in a way that makes it meaningful and profitable to use it moving forward.   

From impossible to possible 

Historical analysis, data mining, behavioral analysis, forecasting and planning, applying machine learning and heuristic algorithms to identify patterns that support growth and higher margins. It all becomes possible, when the underlying systems and applications are 1). Interconnected in a network that allows for access and performance 2). Co-exist in a common model, world view, where a Customer ID in system A, can be correlated correctly in system B, where an invoice or order ID can be matched and queried without extensive data transfer or redundant storage. 


“I’m afraid I can’t do that Dave”,
HAL 9000, 2001: A Space Odyssey 


The Barack Obama campaign coined the phrase for posterity. Yes, we can. New challenges call for innovation through technology to yield new solutions, even to old problems and legacy IT landscapes. We can leverage the content of existing data in systems and applications by applying tools and an approach

that introduces structure and order to the chaos of multiple, overlapping systems of record. This is called Master Data Management.   

In this case this excerpt from Wikipedia explains the concept concisely; “.. ensure the uniformity, accuracy, stewardship, semantic consistency and accountability of the enterprise's official shared master data assets.” In short, making sure that there are no duplicate metadata objects, and if there is – knowing which is master, how to handle inconsistencies in analysis, and so on. It is only when we can trust and rely on our data, that it becomes useful and valuable. We must know what we have, and how to use it, before it can be applied practically. 

Connecting the dots 

The second step is to make the data accessible for actual analysis, reporting, and used in the application layer, and there have been many attempts at this over the past 30 years.   

The challenge is multidimensional. 

  • Data is stored in separate applications and systems. 
  • Applications and systems are hosted in disparate types of infrastructure and/or geographies.
  • We choose different formats and ways to store data, depending on application type and context (e.g. mobile device app vs legacy mainframe) yet we may want to use data from both in the same analysis). 

Most attempts to address this have been to extract, transfer and load data into different systems. Make copies, cache, update and pool data into ”lakes”, ”warehouses”, and ”marts”. However, the exponential growth of both systems (data sources) and data, calls for a radically different approach that allows for better performance. Enter “Data Virtualization”. Again, as Wikipedia so eloquently puts it “Data virtualization is an approach to data management that allows an application to retrieve and manipulate data without requiring technical details about the data, such as how it is formatted at source, or where it is physically located ..”. In short, remove the technical hassle to make the information readily available for application development, and analysis required to support lines of business. 

Data virtualization acts as a catalyst for your existing data assets, as, ironically, although they may have been interconnected through your network before, the content was isolated from every other source due to technical limitations. The value of the connection between them is first realized when you have and combine Master Data Management and Data Virtualization to enable analysis across sources, for the business as a whole.   

Metcalfe's law states that “.. the value of a... network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system”. Similarly, the same applies to interconnected data sources in your business. The more sources you align the data model for, and interconnect for querying and analysis, the greater value is enabled for the business. 


“.. the value of a .. network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system” 


How to get started 

Initiatives in areas like master data management and data virtualization have traditionally, like many ground breaking technologies, resided in the purview of the megacorporations, the global enterprises, the Fortune 100 organizations. The beauty of our ever-accelerating rate of progress though is that technology is based on ideas, and ideas can be transmitted, transformed and enabled as fast as they can be envisioned and implemented. Enfo partners with market leading technology providers in (among other areas) master data management and data virtualization.   

We know what the common challenges are, what pitfalls to avoid, and how to approach the next level of information management that drives and develops your business with a step-by-step plan.  In addition, we can offer access to these types of platforms and tools on a service & subscription basis. Instead of having to spend enourmos sums on hardware, licenses and application development, we have worked to make it possible to enable these capabilities for you, powered by scalable cloud infrastructure. 

The journey begins with a first step, and you must take it.

  • Don’t accept the simplified ”it cannot be done”, “the system doesn’t support that”, and “that’s not part of the design” standard responses – when there’s a will, there’s a way, though it requires persistence and drive. 
  • Think about the way you would like to work and direct your business, rather than what your current application framework allows you to do. 
  • Technology is a tool, use it to work for you, not the other way around. 
Are you looking for ways to leverage technology to benefit your business and outsmart the competition?  Get in touch - every step forward starts with a constructive and thorough discussion!