We have a "New Reality" for doing business in our world. Terrorist attacks have changed our business priorities in fundamental ways. With our global economy as a primary target, our challenge must be to make our businesses healthy and vital. A strong economy is our best defense.

As IT professionals, we struggle in transforming that challenge into meaningful action. Contrasted with the brutality of terrorism, IT appears irrelevant. However, I firmly believe that IT professionals, especially business intelligence (BI) specialists, play a key role in realigning our businesses to the new priorities of the New Reality.

These IT priorities are centered on secure and sustainable systems, which are essential for a strong global economy.

We have traditionally built information systems to support minimal requirements, implement in minimal time and cost a minimal amount. We now face a business environment in which conditions change rapidly and unexpectedly, and the consequences threaten the very continuity of our businesses. It is not disaster recovery, but business continuity that is the issue.

In the New Reality, we must now emphasize security and sustainability in our system building. Security is protection against external threats to the system. In contrast, sustainability is protection from internal failures.

The two are complementary. The greatest benefit comes from balancing security with sustainability, as shown in Figure 1. Figure 1 illustrates that efforts toward threat detection and neutralization must be in balance with efforts toward fault detection and correction.

Figure 1: System Building in the New Reality

There are currently many efforts to fortify our IT castles. However, it is not sufficient to build stronger systems to withstand predetermined threats or failures. Greater progress will come by adding intelligence within the system infrastructure to effectively detect and neutralize threats and detect and correct faults. A smart infrastructure is required for secure and sustainable systems.

Leveraging new BI techniques such as root-cause analysis, system management is a critical technology because it adds intelligence to the lower levels of the infrastructure. We must also apply similar BI techniques to application integration and business process management to increase their value.

Every business transaction must be reliable in the traditional database sense (i.e., ACID properties). Likewise, every transaction must be analyzable in the BI sense. This implies an active warehousing architecture with just-in-time flow into the warehouse and embedded analytics within mainline business applications. These analytics must increasingly emphasize threat detection and neutralization, as well as fault detection and correction. This is the path toward intelligent infrastructures as required for secure and sustainable systems in the New Reality.

BI Bottom Line

  1. Determine which systems are critical to your organization. For each system, the key question is: If the critical system/s failed, would you be able to continue as a business? What is the acceptable level of risk for your business continuity?
  2. Assess the security for critical systems. Are you able to consistently detect significant threats and promptly neutralize threats to that system? How can BI add intelligence to the infrastructure to improve security?
  3. Assess the sustainability for critical systems. Are you able to consistently detect critical fault points and promptly correct those faults? How can BI add intelligence to the infrastructure to improve sustainability?
  4. Are your efforts toward security in balance with those toward sustainability?

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