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    2 Jan 20

    5 Things that IT has conveniently forgets…then remembers again…and again! Part 2

    Continuing my look back at why IT has never been able to make good on its charter from part 1 of this post. Points 3 to 5 below.

    It is worth re-iterating the context that ‘Systems and Procedures’ departments precede computers by some decades. Their role was to design, simplify and measure business processes. Clerks (actors) manually recorded [vast amounts of] transactions in ledgers (databases), or journals (logs) and stored on shelves and cabinets (filesystems) under lock and key (security) – collectively systems. Procedures were meticulously recorded as repeatable playscripts (scripts) for the setup, recovery and operation of business processes.

    Systems are big.

    The frequency of transformation within industry is increasing, so-called Industrial revolutions are happening at a faster rate. However, the amplitude of these changes is decreasing. Read this in the context of Peter Thiels manifesto But what does this mean for your business? There are many companies that espouse the virtues of ‘Think Big, Start Small’ but very few that appear to stick to the axiom. Execution looks more like ‘Start Small, Stay Small! In deference to the agile methodology, teams break up work into small components. They then release each incremental change at speed. But is hardly transformative!

    Agile approaches to software development are quite evidently beneficial when done right. They improve time to market, recognise the value of the product early and create a fast feedback loop to learn. Aside; it may not always have a positive effect on the morale of employees.

    Zone to Win Triangle Model

    These approaches focus on the small. Business and IT leaders have forgotten how to think ‘BIG’. They assume that large numbers of incremental improvements equates to transformative change. Understanding how the interconnectedness of the infrastructure layer (see image) affects operational practice and ultimately the customer ecosystem (business model), and more importantly, how layer 3 behaviours affect business processes and the technology required to operate them. The ‘small’ nature of the agile products can lead to micro-focus on products that make ineffective practices efficient rather than create an effective ecosystem. It’s a 2-way street. More of this in the scopes of agile architecture blog, coming soon.

    Customer experience expertise must combine with business process expertise and product knowledge within the Product Owner, Product Management or Portfolio Owner layers – depending on the scale of your business - in order to retain BIG thinking.

    Data is the problem

    Data is the new oil; or so the current slogan goes. More like data is the old oil! Just ask those in the EDM functions of the 60’s. They knew that data was the key to success, they were also aware that they had a data redundancy problem – one which still is apparent today. There goal was to consolidate data and make it available to the business. In reality; all they did was provide a streamlined method of accessing the same sets of redundant data.

    The additional problem that they caused was that the MIS teams – responsible for the DBMS - ignored data that was not compatible with the technology [in use]. In the 2000’s technology moved on to being able to capture this unstructured data. But, that fact that data was now accessible did not mean it was new. A can of Castrol GTX on the garage shelf that you knew was there in 1984 does not make it new oil when you put it in your engine in 2020.

    Data has always been at the heart of business processes, the fact that IT has remembered this, and can [now] handle it does not mean it is new data.

    Security is important

    Balancing data and technology

    Of course it is, IT has never forgotten that! What they have forgotten is that CyberSecurity is a subset of security. Its effectiveness is dependent on security within the business processes and with people – Gene Kim pointed this out in the well-read Phoenix project, but many IT practitioners failed to understand the message. You need to address them both, you can’t just stop at cyber. This means addressing physical security, and the behavioural traits of people. No amount of cybersecurity will stop people using default passwords, or at least it hasn’t until now. No amount of cyber security will prevent people disposing of half a million of user records into a skip at the back of the building. Or holding the door open for people with a nondescript white badge to allow them into the building.

    Cybersecurity is important, obviously! But, concentrating on the technology alone misses the system wide context in which it sits. Penetration testers such as those experts at secarma understand that testing encompasses the physical and behavioural as well as the technological configuration.

    Read Next...

    The first and second points of this post are in part 1

    Read next about the unsolved problems that have persisted within IT for decades

    How long will digital transformation exist?

    Human experience and Purpose driven organisations

    For a complete map of this series of blogs see here

    Other posts you might be interested in

    Digital Transformation and your dead horses

    Are specialised roles the way forward?

    5 reasons agility is latent in your business