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I&R needs to change how it handles data, and fortunately AIRS is providing leadership and action on this by developing a linked data strategy. As AIRS continues its progress with the linked data strategy, the rest of I&R should begin preparing for the advent of I&R linked data.
What is an API? What is Linked Data? How did this come about?
If you’re up-to-date on the linked data strategy, skip this section. In 2014, AIRS recognized the need to develop an application-programming interface (API) for I&R data. This would allow the I&R data stores more accessible to each other and to the outside world, and enable key technologies such as mobile app development.
Without getting too technical, AIRS decided eventually on a “linked data” strategy. This strategy would give each data item a series of uniform characteristics that make them index-able. It’s similar to the way search engines like Google work. For example, when you search for “How to make eggs benedict,” Google displays a list of recipes. This is possible because the website-makers told Google that their content is indeed a “recipe,” and that the recipe is for “eggs benedict,” and so on. This may be an over-simplified analogy but you get the basic idea.
I&R’s Next Huge API Hurdle
The development of the linked data strategy is a tremendously technical task that is in capable hands. But once the AIRS team has built the “airplane,” how are we going to fly it? Where will it take off and how is it going to land? These are questions that I&R leaders should be exploring immediately.
For instance, one major issue will be data management. Data is a shared digital resource that needs to be maintained, like water in a swimming pool. If it’s left to stagnate, it’ll get funky. It’s too costly a job for just one organization to maintain and having everyone chip in a little effort is laborious to implement.
Another issue is getting all the service providers on the same page in regards to data management. Linked data is a great strategy but it requires some unification and industry-wide change. For example, everyone has to agree to standards and adapt their businesses to include these guidelines. The diverse interests of I&R providers could make this difficult.
These are just some of the tasks I&R must begin to address, and no doubt more obstacles will surface. AIRS is taking a huge step forward on behalf of I&R, but implementing the linked data strategy will be a major undertaking even after the technology is developed. To prepare, I&R leaders should begin receiving direction on how to get ready for the advent linked data.
Traditional business consultants are largely falling out of favor for management and technology consulting hybrids. While there are many business consultants who are truly worth their rates, a pervasive feeling in the business world is that a business consultant is someone who “takes your watch and tell you what time it is.”
There are five main reasons why businesses are opting to hire management consultants who are also business technology experts:
Reason #1: Business Don’t Know What They Don’t Know
This is a common problem as workplaces become more invested in powerful but highly complex technology. Often times, these businesses will hit a technology roadblock and have no idea how to overcome it. And while IT experts can straighten out the tech problem, the problem often lies at the crossroads of business and technology.
Reason #2: IT-Only Firms Are Not Understanding Business Objectives
Many times, clients seek help from the big IT firms or hire techno “geeks” to directly interact with business processes. While the valuable work of these professionals is not to be understated, their interest and focus lies sometimes exclusively with the tech and not the living, process-side of the equation. Frequently, this results in technology that runs fine but goes underutilized. Itcan also lead to an expensive misalignment of technology and business objectives.
Reason #3: Management and Technology Consultants Creatively Offer Solutions
IT firms are great if you already have a good idea of what you want, but unfortunately sometimes the solutions aren’t always so clear. A common mistake businesses make is feeding info to an IT person, only to have them completely misinterpret what was said. This can be a costly mistake.
Management and technology expert listen with both an ear for business goals and technology requirements. As such, they can help clients make informed decisions in regards to their sales, data management, security, and other goals.
Reason #4: Management and Technology Consultants Can Become Trusted Advisors
In many organizations, technology experts with business skills are moving up the corporate ladder and into the boardrooms since their input is necessary for modern problems. Those that have the propensity for business activities as well as the technology are valuable assets to the company. Someone who can wear both hats can make a great addition to a leadership team, especially in a part-time or contract capacity.
Reason #5: Top-tier Performance with Technology is a Necessity
Technology is slated to be the cause of most business growth for at least the short term future, according to a 2014 survey by McKinsey & Co. As such, technology-based leadership is growing in demand, and professionals who can do this are harder to find. Many businesses are getting their relationships in place now to strengthen their business/technology infrastructure for the future.
A mistake too many businesses make is not balancing their technology initiatives with a proper mix of tactical and strategic team members.
If technology was football, the strategic technology people would be the players doing the blocking and tackling while the tactical ones would be the ones calling the plays from up above.
If a technology team is balanced too much towards the tactical side, then operations run smoothly for a while but problems set in after time. Troubleshooting isn’t a problem, and employees are happy for the most part because they always have someone there for to lend technical assistance. This can lead to a false sense of security.
The disadvantages to having to many field-level IT guys, however, is that no one is thinking about business objectives or long-term goals. As a result, problems inevitably start mounting over time, and opportunities are missed as well. The technology team may overlook the growing disparity between new and old systems. They won’t deeply delve into the root causes of problems or advocate for change. Also, they will not champion projects that take workers out of their technological comfort zone, but will lead to significant increases in productivity in time.
Conversely, the technology team that includes too many strategic thinkers will know which way to they want to go, but won’t have the means to get there. This team will generate high-level concepts, create quality content such as reports, closely monitor tech trends, analyze the competition, and develop innovative strategies. However, without the tactical people to support the strategic leader, there will be no way to achieve these high-level goals. And although most strategic technology professional know how to do tactical stuff, their work won’t always be cost-effective since they usually charge more.
Most organizations understand the tactical part of technology, but fail on the strategic part of the equation. Executives of these organizations may be reliant on their own ability to set the direction for technology, or may be under the impression that their IT team will alert them as to anything important. This is hazardous, however, since technology is complex and always moving.
In a rapidly changing business landscape, technological capacity is essential to remain competitive. The efficacy of the technology team depends on a proper balance of both strategic “coaches” and the tactical “players.”
To learn more about technology strategies that can help your business, contact us for a free consultation.