Stop processing the same mistakes! Four steps to business & IT alignment

Digitization. Agility. Tech-driven. Just three strategy buzzwords that promise IT transformation and business alignment, but often fade out into merely superficial change. In fact, aligning business and IT still vexes many organizations because company leaders often forget that transformation is not a move from A to B, or even from A to Z––it’s a move from a fixed starting point, to a state of continual change.


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Mit den richtigen Prozessen zum Erfolg: vier Schritte zum Business-IT Alignment


Within this state of perpetual flux, adaptive technology is necessary, not only to keep up with industry developments but also with the expansion of technology-enabled customer experiences. After all, alignment assumes that business and technology are separate entities, when in fact they are inextricably linked!

Metrics that matter: From information technology to business technology

Information technology is continuing to challenge the way companies organize their business processes, communicate with customers and potential customers, and deliver services. Although there is no single dominant reorganization strategy, common company structures lean towards decentralizing IT, shifting it closer to end-users and melding the knowledge-base with business strategy. Business-IT alignment is more than ever vital for market impact and growth.

This tactic means as business goals pivot, IT can more readily respond with permanent solutions to support and maintain enterprise momentum. In turn, technological advances and improvements are hardwired into current and future strategies and initiatives. As working ecosystems replace strict organizational structures, the traditional question “Which department do you work in?” has been replaced by, “How do you work?”

But how does IT prove its value and win the trust of the C-suite? Well, according to Gartner, almost 20% of companies have already invested in tools capable of monitoring business-relevant metrics, with this number predicted to reach 60% by 2021. The problem is many infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders don’t know where to begin when initiating an IT monitoring strategy.

Reach beyond the everyday: Four challenges to alignment

With this, CIOs are under mounting pressure to address digital needs that grow and transform, as well as to renovate the operational environment with new functions. They also must still demonstrate how IT is meeting a given business strategy. So looking forward, no matter how big or small your business is, technology can deliver tangible and intangible benefits (like speed and performance) to hit revenue and operational targets efficiently, and meet your customers’ expectations of innovation.

Put simply, having a good technological infrastructure enriches the culture, efficiency, and relationships of your business.

Business and IT alignment: The rate of change

This continuous strategic loop means enterprises function better, make more profit, and see better ROI because they achieve their goals with less effort. And while there may be no standard way to align successfully, an organization where IT and business strategy are in lock-step can further improve agility and operational efficiencies. This battle of the ‘effs’, efficiency vs. effectiveness, has never been so critical to business survival.

In fact, successful companies are those that dive deeper; such is the importance of this synergy. Amazon and Apple are prime examples—technology and technological innovation is embedded and aligned within their operational structure. In several cases, they created the integral technology and business strategies themselves!

Convergence and Integration

These types of aligned companies have also increased the efficiency of technology investments and significantly reduced the financial and operational risks associated with business and technical change.

However, if this rate of change and business agility is as fast as we continually say, we need to be talking about convergence and integration, not just alignment. In other words, let’s do the research and learn, but empower next-level thinking so we can focus on the co-creation of “true value” and respond quickly to customers and users.

Granular strategies

Without this granular strategy, companies may spend too much on technology without ever solving the business challenges they face, simply due to differing departmental objectives, cultures, and incentives. Simply put, business-IT alignment integrates technology with the strategy, mission, and goals of an organization. For example:

  • Faster time-to-market
  • Increased profitability
  • Better customer experience
  • Improved collaboration
  • Greater industry and IT agility
  • Strategic technological transformation

Hot topic

View webinar recording Empowering Collaboration Between Business and IT, with Fabio Gammerino, Signavio Pre-Sales Consultant.

The power of process: Four steps to better business-IT alignment

While it may seem intuitive, many organizations struggle to achieve the elusive goal of business-IT alignment. This is not only because alignment is a cumbersome and lengthy process, but because the overall process is made up of many smaller sub-processes. Each of these sub-processes lacks a definitive start and endpoint. Instead, each one comprises some “learn and do” cycles that incrementally advance the overall goal.

These cycles aren’t simple fixes, and this explains why issues still exist in the modern digital world. But by establishing a common language, building internal business relationships, ensuring transparency, and developing precise corporate plans of action, the bridge between the two stabilizes.

Four steps to best position your business-IT alignment strategy:

  1. Plan: Translate business objectives into measurable IT services, so resources are effectively allocated to maximize turnover and ROI – This step requires ongoing communication between business and IT leaders.
  2. Model: IT designs infrastructure to increase business value and optimize operations – IT must understand business needs and ensure that they are implementing systems critical to business services.
  3. Manage: Service is delivered based on company objectives and expectations – IT must act as a single point-of-service request, and prioritize those requests based on pre-defined priorities.
  4. Measure: Improvement of cross-organization visibility and service level commitments – While metrics are essential, it is crucial that IT ensures a business context to what they are measuring, and keeps a clear relationship between the measured parameter and business goals.

Signavio Says

Temporarily rotating IT employees within business operations is a top strategy in reaching business-IT alignment because it circulates company knowledge. This cross-pollination encourages better relationships between the IT department and other silos and broadens skill-sets, especially for entry-level employees. Better knowledge depth gives the organization more flexibility with well-rounded employees who can fill various roles as demand arises.

Get in touch

Discover how Signavio can lead your business to IT transformation and operational excellence with the  Signavio Business Transformation Suite. Try it for yourself by registering now for a free 30-day trial.

How Data Analytics In The Cloud Transforms Your Business

Businesses have started to turn to cloud-based technology to solve their growing data problems. But before we dive deep into the reason behind it, let’s look at some reasons why data analytics is such a powerful tool. It all falls back to businesses like Netflix, Amazon, Google, and Facebook. All of these businesses are using data analytics to understand their customers and are making an absolute fortune. They also have so much data coming in that they needed to mitigate it somehow, so they turned to the cloud.

Let’s use Netflix as an example here. They have over 115 million subscribers and have become the absolute king of the online streaming industry. Their rise to the top was no fluke. They developed state-of-the-art methods of data analytics and then gathered the information needed to provide the right entertainment to the right people.

Amazon uses data to learn about its customers. They analyze all behavior on their website and then target customers based on that data.

Cloud-based technologies are designed to reduce costs associated with older data analytical methods. Businesses like Netflix, Amazon, Google, and Facebook have all started underpinning the cloud because they know it’s the future. They based their entire business models around it.

But smaller businesses still have a long way to go. Only 40% of businesses are using data as the core piece of their business strategy.

Now let’s look at some ways that data analytics has transformed business.

It Gave Birth to Strategic Analytics

Strategic analytics is the backbone of your entire data plan. It is a detailed analysis of the entire system that is used to determine how you are funneling customers into your system. It will reveal weak points and show you the strengths so that you can develop data-driven strategies moving forward. It also helps you understand the behavior of your market.

Strategic analytics follows a three-step process:

  1. Identify your business model’s strengths and weaknesses in comparison with your competition.
  2. Diagnose all of your business processes to determine areas that might need to be improved.
  3. Analyze individuals within the company to make sure you are properly using them. You would be surprised at the number of businesses wasting their employees’ talents on inefficient tasks.

At the end of it all, your business should be able to determine areas of your marketing where you can pull out more value, as well as data that you need to start gathering.

Fuel your Decisions with Platform Analytics

The goal here is to combine data analytics with your decision-making processes so that your business operates more efficiently at its very core. If money is the lifeblood of your business, then decisions are the heart that keeps that money flowing. So think of analytics as a healthy diet. It keeps every area of your business healthy and operating at peak efficiency. Platform analytics asks some important questions like:

  • How can data analytics be efficiently added to our everyday business processes?
  • Are there any areas that we can automate that will improve efficiency?
  • What will back end systems benefit from learning more about our customers?

In most cases, businesses will find that the cloud will enhance their overall data plan, no matter which point they have reached in their growth. Think of it like checking your blood pressure. If there are problems, then you know that you’ll need a diagnosis.

Helps Businesses Transform their Model

Businesses will need to use data in parallel with their model to stay caught up with the changing times as we move forward. In layman’s terms, businesses need to update their core business processes in a way so that it uses data to create opportunities. This opens up a whole new world for their customers, products, and services.

Companies that can forecast using data will see improvements across the board – from their recruitment to their marketing. But there is a specific data-centric approach that must be taken.

  • Must possess an overall vision that includes data and capitalizes on the opportunities presented.
  • Develop a culture that is centered on data and is not afraid to experiment with it.
  • Leverage new technologies to manage their data. Right now, the latest technology is cloud-based so businesses must learn to leverage it.
  • Use data to build trust with consumers.
  • Find innovative ways to gain insight into upcoming trends and tap into there as quickly as possible.

Management of Enterprise Information

Enterprise information management (known as EIM) is an important part of data-driven processes. Most data in businesses is stored in an unmanaged location like a server or some other in-house database. Cloud-based technologies have created a more secure way to store data, but you will still need a data management system in place.

By developing agile data management systems, you will be able to gather and distribute data more efficiently. EIM systems allow businesses to:

  • Streamline all of their processes in a way that simplifies everyone’s job.
  • Improve collaboration among different teams.
  • Improve the productivity of employees.

Creates a Data-Centric Business

This is the most important factor in business today, and it’s the reason why all businesses must start using the latest data analytics strategies. The more useful data a business can generate, the more of an advantage they are going to have. Again, look at leaders like Netflix and Amazon to see this in action. They are generating essential information from everyone who browses their systems. Their entire business models are centered on data, and it’s the number one reason why they are at the top of their respective industries.

Insight, optimization, and innovation are the three main categories of data analytics.

Final Thoughts

The Research Optimus Team understands that having the right data migration system is going to benefit all businesses, both large and small. It’s why their focus has turned to cloud-based technologies. Could-enabled businesses gain a competitive advantage over those who are still relying on older data technologies.

Business moves at supersonic speeds now so if you are not staying current with the latest technology, then you are going to fall behind.

 

What Customers Want from Business Transformation Solutions

No matter what industry you work in, customer satisfaction is paramount. After all, in most cases,  there can be no business without customers! As such, keeping customers happy is a driving force for many organizations. All sorts of studies have been conducted, articles and reports have been drafted and re-drafted, and consumers bombarded with market research questions, all in search of understanding what customers want, and how businesses can offer it to them. 


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Was Kunden von Business-Transformation-Lösungen erwarten

 


From a process management perspective, the technology to track the way customers interact with your business already exists, in the form of customer journey mapping (CJM). Customer journey mapping helps you to understand exactly how customers engage with your business, and what their experience is like when they do. It helps answer questions like: 

  • Do customers have positive or negative feelings when they interact with specific touchpoints within your organization’s processes? 
  • Are there points where customers stall, or disengage, or want more information? 
  • How do the people you’re trying to reach really respond to your customer service options?

Asking these questions internally is essential. However, an even more vital tool in building customer satisfaction and loyalty is a very simple one: just ask! 

What business transformation customers want

Technology enables businesses to ask customers directly about products and services more easily than ever, but there is an associated risk of consulting customers too much. Rather than letting customers know you care, this can instead make them feel the opposite. In addition, restrictions on the collection and use of customer data means actually contacting customers can be a challenge.

One way to overcome this is to make use of one of the technical review services available online. Browsing any of these sites reveals a wealth of information about what customers value in all sorts of industries. For example, Signavio uses IT Central Station to track customer views on business transformation software. When we consider these views in aggregate, we can see two common threads emerge over and over: collaboration and ease of use.

Comments from real users return to these points often:

  • “For me, the features I find most valuable are definitely in the Collaboration Hub. We are getting more users on there and becoming more familiar with it.”
  • “Based on my experience, one of the best features offered by Signavio is its simple Collaboration Hub functions, where users from various departments can constantly refer to their TO-BE process design.”
  • One of the important things for us, when we were looking at solutions, was the ease of use. The ease of use affected the adoption in our organization massively. If it had not been easy to use and people were struggling with it, then they just would not have used it. So I’d say it’s quite a high factor in making a choice.”
  • “One of the most valuable features is ease of use, which has really been a good thing to put into the business. People like tools that they can just pick up and use straight-away.”
  • “The interface is quite intuitive. I am modeling a lot of processes, so for me, it’s quite easy.”

A final piece of advice

Knowing where customers find value is crucial to understanding how to meet their needs best, and thus creating ongoing and meaningful customer relationships. As with many customer-focused issues, feelings play a large role. 

The same can be said for business transformation, as the Lead Business Analyst at a media company with over 10,000 employees pointed out: “You will have a gut feel of what you want to do and when you actually look at the tools that are out there it is easier to make your decision.”

If you’re ready to make your decision about the right business transformation solution for you, register for a free 30-day trial with Signavio today.

Scaling Up Your Process Management

Any new business faces questions: have we found the right product/market fit? Does the business model work? Have we got enough money to keep the doors open? Typically, new businesses are focused on staying afloat, meaning anything that isn’t immediately relevant to that goal is left until later—whenever that might be!   


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Machen Sie mehr aus Ihrem Prozessmanagement


However, most businesses soon realize that staying afloat means finding the most efficient way to deliver their products or services to customers. As a result, the way a business functions starts to move into focus, with managers and staff looking to achieve the same outcome, in the same way, over and over. The quickest route to this? Establishing efficient processes. 

Once a business has clarified the responsibilities of all staff, and identified their business process framework, they are better able to minimize waste and errors, avoid misunderstandings, reduce the number of questions asked during the day-to-day business, and generally operate more smoothly and at a greater pace.

Expanding your business with process management

Of course, no new business wants to remain new for long—becoming firmly established is the immediate goal, with a focus on expansion to follow, leading to new markets, new customers, and increased profitability. Effectively outlining processes takes on even more importance when companies seek to expand. Take recruitment and onboarding, for example. 

Ad hoc employment processes may work for a start-up, but a small business looking to take the next step needs to introduce new staff members frequently and ensure they have the right information to get started immediately. The solution is a documented, scalable, and repeatable process that can be carried out as many times as needed, no matter the location or the role being filled. 

When new staff are employed, they’ll need to know how their new workplace actually functions. Once again, a clear process framework means all the daily processes needed are accessible to all staff, no matter where the employee is based. As the business grows, more and more people will come on board, each with their own skills, and very likely their own ideas and suggestions about how the business could be improved… 

Collaborative process management

Capturing the wisdom of the crowd is also a crucial factor in a successful business—ensuring all employees have a chance to contribute to improving the way the company operates. In a business with an effective process modeling framework, this means providing all staff with the capability to design and model processes themselves. 

Traditionally, business process modeling is a task for the management or particular experts, but this is an increasingly outdated view. Nobody wants to pass up the valuable knowledge of individuals; after all, the more knowledge there is available about a process, the more efficiently the processes can be modeled and optimized. Using a single source of process truth for the entire organization means companies can promote collaborative and transparent working environments, leading to happier staff, more efficient work, and better overall outcomes for the business. 

Collaborative process management helps to grow organizations avoid cumbersome, time-consuming email chains, or sifting through folders for the latest version of documents, as well as any number of other hand brakes on growth. 

Instead, process content can be created and shared by anyone, any time, helping drive a company’s digital and cloud strategies, enhance investigations and process optimization efforts, and support next-gen business transformation initiatives. In short, this radical transparency can serve as the jumping-off point for the next stage of a company’s growth. 

Want to find out more about professional process management? Read our White Paper 7-Step Guide to Effective Business Transformation!

Data Science Certifications to Excel in Your Career: A Holistic Approach

Personal and professional growth for an individual depends on the investment one puts in continued education. Continued education is necessary for leadership positions and industries such as human resources, manufacturing, marketing, operations, information technology, etc. Staying updated with the relevant profession is essential to move up the career ladder, and in certain cases, it is essential to save the job. 

It showcases your knowledge, education, and relevant skills necessary to perform the job for the current and future employers. ‘Career growth’ is not defined by the higher salaries but the effort made to earn those ‘higher salaries.’ Higher salaries do not mean the appreciable yearly increment in a well-established firm but earning the competent salaries by staying with the trend. We will discuss the learning opportunities for the most in-demand data science professionals here. 

 

Data Science certifications for the Newbies

When you understand the basic principles of data science, it would help you use the tools productively. If you are looking to develop data analytic skills, then you can opt for certain free online courses. It helps you learn the basics of data science at your own pace and get acquainted with the field knowledge.  

Most of the data science certification program or courses mentioned below are available free online. Though, a few may charge for gaining the certification once you finish the course. Whatever the case may be, you get destined to gain knowledge in the field which would be a good kick start for your career. 

To mention a few, they are:

  • Coursera – Data Science Specialization
  • Edx – Data Science Essentials
  • Udacity – Introduction to Machine Learning
  • IBM – Data Science Fundamentals
  • Data Quest – Become a Data Scientist
  • Kdnuggets – Data Mining Course

Most of these courses are available free online and are self-paced. You can get the basic hold of the subject and afterward, you may go for premium courses to advance learning or earn certifications.  

 

Data Science Certifications for Professionals

To stay competitive in the industry, you should get certified from industry-renowned global certification bodies. Mention not to say, there is a lot of difference between courses and certifications. Though a course gives you the relevant subject knowledge or skill, a certification program is vendor-neutral and increases your employability factor. It equips you with the latest tools and techniques and assures your prospective recruiter that you are their shot to hire. 

To mention a few of the best data science certifications, they are:

  • SAS Academy for Data Science – SAS Certified Data Scientist
  • Data Science Council of America (DASCA) – Senior Data Scientist 
  • Google- Google Certified Professional Data Engineer
  • Dell EMC Education ServicesData Science Associate v2 (DCS-DS) certification and the Data Science Specialist (DCS-DS) certification

These certifications equip you with the latest tools and techniques and assure your prospective recruiter that you are their shot to hire. 

 

Industry-specific Certifications

Industry-specific certifications, as the name itself indicates, these are specific to the industries. These certifications provide you specific training with use cases in the industry you are interested in or working. It helps you solve industrial problems at a faster rate with deep insight.  

To mention a few:

  • Agriculture Industry- Certificate in Agricultural Data Science
  • Fintech industry- Certification course for financial professions
  • Business Analytics – Harvard Business School’s Certification Program 

The data collected by an education department is entirely different from the e-commerce industry. These certifications give you a clear-cut idea about data mining and deriving insights by using the right and specific tools as required.

 

Cross-functional Certifications

A data science job is an end-to-end job. Data insights are used to improve business productivity, marketing strategy, and business value. So, it is good to know other fields also like business analytics, marketing, manufacturing. Though these certifications do not directly deal with the subject, it structures your knowledge base in the industry. It gives a holistic approach to your work and widens your organizational value. 

To mention a few, they are:

  • Project Management Institute- Project Management Professional Certification
  • Springboard – Certified UX Designer
  • Business Analyst Professional Program – Institute of Business Analyst Training

These certifications give you complete knowledge of the system and help you derive data with a holistic approach and gain business benefits. 

 

Wrapping Up:

In addition to certifications, it is necessary to complete a few independent projects to showcase your skills. It increases practical knowledge and provides hand-on-experience in technology. Ultimately, the knowledge we impart for the organization that can increase value matters. 

So, rather than choosing certifications or learnings merely for job or salary purposes, it is recommended to choose for learning purposes. When you develop interest and dedication for the subject, it helps you go a long way in the career path. 

Be strategic in your learnings and increase the knowledge base.

 

 

Seeing the Big Picture: Combining Enterprise Architecture with Process Management

Ever tried watching a 3D movie without those cool glasses people like to take home? Two hours of blurred flashing images is no-one’s idea of fun. But with the right equipment, you get an immersive experience, with realistic, clear, and focused images popping out of the screen. In the same way, the right enterprise architecture brings the complex structure of an organization into focus.

We know that IT environments in today’s modern businesses consist of a growing number of highly complex, interconnected, and often difficult-to-manage IT systems. Balancing customer service and efficiency imperatives associated with social, mobile, cloud, and big data technologies, along with effective day-to-day IT functions and support, can often feel like an insurmountable challenge.

Enterprise architecture can help organizations achieve this balance, all while managing risk, optimizing costs, and implementing innovations. Its main aim is to support reform and transformation programs. To do this, enterprise architecture relies on the accuracy of an enterprise’s complex data systems, and takes into account changing standards, regulations, and strategic business demands.

Components of effective enterprise architecture

In general, most widely accepted enterprise architecture frameworks consist of four interdependent domains:

  • Business Architecture

A blueprint of the enterprise that provides a common understanding of the organization, and used to align strategic objectives and tactical demands. An example would be representing business processes using business process management notation.

  • Data Architecture

The domain that shows the dependencies and connections between an organization’s data, rules, models, and standards.

  • Applications Architecture

The layer that shows a company’s complete set of software solutions and their relationships with each other.

  • Infrastructure Architecture

Positioned at the lowest level, this component shows the relationships and connections of an organization’s existing hardware solutions.

Effective EA implementation means employees within a business can build a clear understanding of the way their company’s IT systems execute their specific work processes, as well as how they interact and relate to each other. It allows users to identify and analyze application and business performance, with the goal of enabling underperforming IT systems to be promptly and efficiently managed.

In short, EA helps businesses answer questions like:

  • Which IT systems are in use, and where, and by whom?
  • Which business processes relate to which IT systems?
  • Who is responsible for which IT systems?
  • How well are privacy protection requirements upheld?
  • Which server is each application run on?

The same questions, shifted slightly to refer to business processes rather than IT systems, are what drive enterprise-level business process management as well. Is it any wonder the two disciplines go together like popcorn and a good movie?

Combining enterprise architecture with process management

Successful business/IT alignment involves effectively leveraging an organization’s IT to achieve company goals and requirements. Standardized language and images (like flow charts and graphs) are often helpful in fostering mutual understanding between highly technical IT services and the business side of an organization.

In the same way, combining EA with collaborative business process management establishes a common language throughout a company. Once this common ground is established, misunderstandings can be avoided, and the business then has the freedom to pursue organizational or technical transformation goals effectively.

At this point, strengthened links between management, IT specialists, and a process-aware workforce mean more informed decisions become the norm. A successful pairing of process management, enterprise architecture, and IT gives insight into how changes in any one area impact the others, ultimately resulting in a clearer understanding of how the organization actually functions. This translates into an easier path to optimized business processes, and therefore a corresponding improvement in customer satisfaction.

Effective enterprise architecture provides greater transparency inside IT teams, and allows for efficient management of IT systems and their respective interfaces. Along with planning continual IT landscape development, EA supports strategic development of an organization’s structure, just as process management does.

Combining the two leads to a quantum leap in the efficiency and effectiveness of IT systems and business processes, and locks them into a mutually-reinforcing cycle of optimization, meaning improvements will continue over time. Both user communities can contribute to creating a better understanding using a common tool, and the synergy created from joining EA and business process management adds immediate value by driving positive changes company-wide.

Want to find out more? Put on your 3D glasses, and test your EA initiatives with Signavio! Sign up for your free 30-day trial of the Signavio Business Transformation Suite today.