Over the past 20 years, technology has advanced at an amazing pace. While article upon article has been written on how to implement dashboard, financial planning, data warehousing and data integration solutions, most companies have yet to unleash the power of improved information systems. There are two causes for this: either the company has not yet successfully executed new information capabilities or business users have been unable to retool their processes in response to them.

As the new columnist for Strategy Execution, I believe it is critical to address key areas and drivers for both causes of failure. My future columns will be dedicated to helping organizations assess their current environment, processes and systems to achieve the goal of complete information empowerment. But first, to build the information-empowered organization, four broad issues must be addressed.

  1. Delivering quality information. Providing management with consistently accurate information is a greater challenge than most organizations realize. In order to deliver quality information, unnecessary and inconsistent data redundancies must be eliminated, and master data standards for data definitions, business rules, hierarchies and attributes must exist across the organization. An architectural vision and roadmap should be in place that supports the data management strategy, with consideration for handling large volumes of structured and unstructured data.
  2. Implementing and integrating performance management tools. In place of multiple, disparate tools used for specific purposes, an enterprise performance management technology platform should be selected, implemented and adopted for simplicity and to achieve a lower total cost of ownership. The platform must be aligned to specific user needs and adopted by the majority of the enterprise.
  3. Building a scalable architecture. Information-empowered organizations must plan for architectural scalability. Information becomes a strategic asset that continually grows, and the platform enables tool availability for many more workers across the broader organization. To expand the reach to the entire enterprise and make performance management ubiquitous, comprehensive organizational needs must be met, and the system must meet service level agreements (SLAs).
  4. Enabling the organization to support information management. The most often overlooked but critical task for continual information empowerment is development of a performance management service model. Organizations often lack knowledge of their toolsets, both within the business and IT. Many don’t even recognize all the components available and their purpose. Developing a successful performance management service model includes development of competency centers, appropriate integration of external resources, development of SLAs and measurement of business benefits from each successive project.

By addressing these four areas at a high level, an organization will create the fundamentals for laying the information foundation, which gives visibility to measure and manage performance accurately, quickly and efficiently.
However, imagine taking over as CIO, charged to evaluate and improve the organization, making it truly information empowered. These four areas provide only a fundamental examination of information foundation. CIOs must diagnose their organization in several areas, including mobilization, alignment, quality, technology and architecture. Only then can a CIO prepare the company to fully leverage its information assets. My future columns will concentrate on these five areas:

  • Mobilization. This first step is critical, arguably defining the level of success of the information strategy. I will discuss best practices and common pitfalls in assessing your organization, building a business case for change and developing a plan for continual improvement.
  • Organizational alignment. The creation of an organizational model to support information assets can be challenging. I’ll discuss how to establish competency centers, key considerations in their makeup, the critical role they should play in your organization, and how to manage change and ensure centers assume their roles.
  • Data quality. I will focus on the key actions that drive quality in information. This high-level review should enable readers to assess their current position and determine where they should focus directionally.
  • Tools and technologies. Rather than focus on exact tools, I’ll talk about best practices in selection, migration from disparate toolsets, alignment to enterprise needs and how to ensure adoption and support of enterprise information tools.
  • Scalable architecture. The foundation that supports all other aspects, I’ll discuss how to ensure the architecture can meet user needs now and in the future, along with a continual evaluation process to ensure the architecture maintains pace with the organization’s growth.
No matter how fast technology continues to advance, leading organizations must ensure an information foundation that delivers complete information empowerment. I look forward to discussing how you can reap the benefits of technology by improving information delivery and/or enabling business users to respond to data through retooled processes.

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