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The Matrix and IT Management

It’s been a really busy year for me with conferences and summits and we’re just starting Q4 and there’s another couple more months of conferences and summits coming up in Hong Kong.

Earlier this year, I got nabbed by some marketeers from Brocade Communications to attend their APAC (Asia Pacific) roadshow for their Extraordinary Networks campaign to educate the enterprise sector of their acquisition of Foundry Networks. There’s a lot of good stuff in there which you can find about here, here and here. I don’t normally and actually loathe to write up specifically about technology partners. The reason for this is because I prefer to keep neutral and agnostic about my dealings with the supply side of IT. I’m a pretty principled best-of-breed technologist when it comes to building my IT “real-estate”.

On this point, I recently was honored to have been invited to the Marcus Evans 2nd Annual CIO Summit held Oct 6-8 in Macau. Key topics of the conference touched upon:

  • CIO Innovation – Conceptualising IT infrastructure to be the epicentre of achieving organisational efficiency and productivity
  • Globalization of IT – Analysing the impact of globalisation on business trends that rely on data management to provide greater competitive advantage
  • IT Architecture Evolution – Transitioning away from legacy systems and integrating emerging technologies to facilitate modernization
  • IT Fortification – Maximizing network security to enable business continuity and minimize critical data loss Next Generation Investments – Adopting innovative technology to enhance the core infrastructure of a business
  • IT Governance – Ensuring value delivery, monitoring accountability and complying with regulation
    Strategic Redeployment – Evaluating the impact of migrating critical data infrastructure
  • Redesigning Service Level Agreements – Institutionalising a framework that supports durational and financial flexibility
  • Storage Resource Management – Implementing efficient data storage practices to reduce costs and increase productivity
  • Information Value Chain – Developing dynamic communication collaboration to facilitate efficient knowledge distribution and management
  • Reputational Excellence – Ensuring high levels of data management and information delivery to avoid image erosion
  • As the opening keynote speaker of the summit, I tried to set the tone and breathe of the IT topics and issues many senior IT leaders face at some level in their professional life. The topic, I spoke on was in the IT architecture area: Pursuing Versatile IT Architecture to Effectively Respond to Economic Expansion and Contraction. The thrust of my presentation featured “The Matrix” into the principles of IT architecture. I also included my own version of the 7 IT Management layers as translated from the OSI Network layers framework. This was my “IT management for dummies” response to people in my team and outside my team as well as a personal effort to come to grips with the whole daunting IT Governance body of knowledge out there.

    In summary, I covered the following key points:

  • Business Challenges
  • CIO – Business Architect
  • Choice: Technology, Process, People
  • Balanced IT Design
  • Case Brief
  • At first, I discussed the importance of having a good solid understanding of the business context – challenges, environmental factors – that your IT function is operating in (see Porter’s 5 Forces Modeling). Not surprising many of the CIOs in the conference are laboring under severe budgetary constraints. I mean seriously, how much “do more with less” can one stomach? I battled my turf with as blunt of a tool I could think of – “Cut my budget any more and I’m going to be cutting off your email and internet. Is that ok with you?” It was a wake up call because in the death march of corporate cost cutting, sometimes, you’re on auto-pilot that you and your finance colleagues need to be shaken out of the funk. Being a corporate lemming is not my idea of fun, thank you very much.

    Second, I delved in the role of the “business architect” and I may be really bold and brash by saying so. The context of this starts here with the conversation between Neo and The Architect in “The Matrix Reloaded”.

    From this it leads to the difficult problem we all face: CHOICE. Choice of people, choice of technologies, choice of processes. Wrong choices and we’re forced to contemplate “levels of survivability” and “rebooting” our own Business/IT Matrix. But this is not all we face because in each of these choices are other levels of choices and we find ourselves going dow different “rabbit holes” and where we end up, who knows? Overarching simple design principles – (a) alignment with Business Strategy and (b) future proof + present relevancy and performance of the IT real-estate – can help us with our choices, but they’re not so easily applied. This is because each of the 3 main CHOICES we have, they have 3 other major constraints to be applied in the analysis:

  • (i) Management complexity
  • (ii) Accountability/Responsibility
  • (iii) Cost
  • So in one’s IT Design evaluation of the ultimate “Matrix” there are futher questions:
    1. What’s the Matrix you’re aiming to build?
    2. Can you procure the people, technology to enable the Matrix?
    3. Implementation hurdles which mainly in my view revolve around “control”

    Finally, I wrapped up my 40 minute by discussing an on-going case in a high level illustrating some of these ideas at work. If you want to know more, you can view my presentation on Slideshare.

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