Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Reducing Data Sprawl

 Data sprawl is everywhere and is becoming a bigger problem by the second as we move into a near real-time world. It hits people and organizations, but organizations are on the leading edge to respond to it. Data sprawl refers to the ever-growing amount of data produced, dealt with or aggregated from various new contexts, events, and patterns. It is often mentioned as "big data," but I prefer calling it monster data because of its sizable increase and speed of propagation. It is usually spread over multiple data storage types, networks, and applications that grow as new technologies and data types are introduced. This short blog will cover the significant sources of data sprawl, the considerable effects of the sprawl, and the meaningful ways of dealing with sprawl.  

Primary Sources of Data Sprawl

Operational Applications:  There is often data sprawl built into many organizations because of application data redundancy. It's common to have many data sources for the main subject areas such as customers, products, services, vendors, partners, etc., in base operational data, including their archives that have been building for years or decades. As these systems struggle to keep up with change, they need additional sources of data.

Analytic Potential:  Organizations are constantly collecting data for future analysis to pick up on strategic trends, adjust tactical policies/rules, or look for operational tweaks for performance improvement. Often automation opportunities are hidden in the data generated by signals, events, and patterns occurring in typical contexts and, in some cases, divergent contexts. The wide variety of data types and context crossing requires emergent views and new data sources. Many data warehouses, data lakes, and oceans are being generated for hopefully valuable future analysis. It's complicated by new and emerging data types such as voice, image, and video.

Edge Requirements: As organizations are driven to make decisions earlier at the edge of their organizations, more immediate decisions, plus the data that support them, must be gathered. Also, data must be archived for future audits and management review of edge actions. IoT can complicate an organization's data management strategy because it drives data issues faster than traditional edge issues. Often the outcomes of edge decisions feed the analytic and operational data needs over time.

Significant Effects of Data Sprawl


For many organizations, data sprawl compromises the value of the data. For example, all business and technology professionals have to deal with data from multiple sources in multiple

formats, making operations and analysis difficult. In addition, data can be misinterpreted or, worse yet, corrupted during data leverage and rendering the efforts worthless or just plain wrong.


 This ever-growing data monster will be challenging to keep tabs on, thereby increasing data breaches and other security risks. In addition, it puts organizations at risk of facing strict penalties of emerging governance efforts such as GDPR, CCPA, or further data protection legislation for non-compliance.


Keeping all this data is costly and challenging to manage. The data professionals, owners, and stewards have their hands full, keeping on top of the morphing emerging data sources. All of this while assisting all the various uses of proven data, much less the data with potential whose value is unknown at any point in time.

Significant Solutions to Data Sprawl:

Shifting to the Cloud: The data discovery and classification that would occur in a cloud migration strategy would help organizations get their arms around what they have. At the same time, there would be a need to build and leverage a consolidated cloud repository where users and applications can access and store data files with ease. At the same time, silos of data can be reduced significantly by removing duplicate and irrelevant data. A Security audit can be done at the same time.

Building a Data Mesh/Fabric:  A data fabric is an architecture and a set of data services that provide consistent capabilities across a choice of data sources that are on-premises plus in multiple cloud environments. The fabric simplifies and integrates data management across cloud and on-premises data resources to accelerate long-term digital transformation while serving immediate uses. In addition, meshes/fabrics make building any data view needed easier and quicker. A significant first step in building a data mesh/fabric is acquiring a DBMS to support operational and analytical uses with the same data. It is now a real possibility that many organizations are acting on at this moment.

Building a Meta-Data Catalog: You can’t manage what you can't see or measure. It means that organizations need a data catalog with significant data descriptors for data and information resources (meta-data) that is up to date and customizable. The data discovery and classification required by cloud migration can be leveraged to build the varied catalog needed for effective data management in the digital world.

Net: Net:

We all know that getting ahead of the data sprawl is ideal where policies and procedures are in effect while gathering new data sources. Unfortunately, the reality of the day is that it's often too late for the data sources collected in the past. Organizations need to take steps now as it’s only going to get worse. We all know that new digital technologies are data-hungry, so getting them in shape for consumption is an essential business competency that needs to be grown in most cases. We also know that the hybrid work environment will generate volumes of new unstructured data to manage while change accelerates. To manage and govern our growing data sources, recent efforts around data will have to get top priority. If data is the energy source for digital progress, we have to get going now.





Monday, August 16, 2021

Budgeting Technologies For 2022

 Many of us have to participate in the budgeting process and it usually is not the most pleasant process. Let's take a look at the context for creating our 2022 Tech Budgets. Besides business and organizational trends, the trends in technical spending come into play. Gartner published actual spending trends for technology in July and organizations have an increased spending level of 8.6 % to date. In that same report, Gartner predicted a 5.3% increase in spending for 2022 that is an overall decrease of 3.3%. The big increase is in enterprise software at 11.7 % that is counter to the decrease. The question is what kind of software should organizations be investing in? This post identifies my prediction of the most popular software purchases for 2022. They are in no particular order. Each organization needs to allocate their increase in several of these categories even though there may be some pioneering. 

Results-Oriented Communications (ROC)

With all the emphasis on attaining better business outcomes, innovation, digital transformations, and better resource management, a new category of software has emerged to focus important communications and tie them to actual results stakeholders really want. ROC helps create and maintain a laser focus on results and helps organizations cut out the noise communications. Here are some detailed readings on the topic:

Results-OrientedCommunications Post

Hybrid Work Model Post

Chaotic Communications Post

Costs of Not Having ROC

Management Cockpits/Data Science

A management cockpit allows management to grasp complex situations quickly by integrating all the pertinent data, promoting the collaboration of many individual views of information necessary to make the required decisions as soon as possible, thus taking proper and timely adjustments or actions. It is an integration of crucial perspectives that leverages data science and the latest data. Here are some detailed readings on the topic:

Management Cockpit Definition

Frictionless Management

Real-Time Fastboards

Real-Time Data Mesh/Fabrics

The shackles are off for the next generation of databases, but the challenges are steep. Few organizations have a holistic and pervasive view of where their data is and how to best view and operate on it. The new databases act as meshes that know where the data is and can combine it in various time channels in real-time at best and on short notice at worst. Without really having to know where the data is, business pros can access their specific views for their purposes if the data is housed or in a nearby could infrastructure. Here are some detailed readings on the topic:

Data Mesh Definition

Real-Time/Archival Data Mix

Hybrid Data

Human Augmentation & Skills Leverage

Technology will provide new perspectives on work, particularly from the outside in the new digital experience. In addition, technology will supercharge our skills to a higher level where there are current skills and will allow for the heterogeneity of work even when skills are scarce. The idea of pure specialization will recede as people are assisted with work by leveraging additional intelligence applied in context with hybrid data. Here are some detailed readings on the topic:

Organizational Journeys

Customer Journeys & Tech

Roles & AI

Intelligent Autuomation

Organizations depend on automation to lower costs or provide a funding mechanism for new digital approaches or both. This means that automation moves from mechanically focused speed increases, and reduction of human tasks to smarter and data-informed approaches that leverage process, mining, AI, and bots teamed up with AI-assisted human collaborators. There are many automation streams that are coming together with specialty digital business platforms(DBPs). Here are some detailed readings on the topic:

Automation & AI

Automating with DBPs

Top Digitial Technologies

Net: Net: 

Organizations will have to balance automation with better customer journeys while learning how to master the evolving and emerging digital technologies. It means that budgets will have to be aligned and realigned often as digital moves forward. All this digital activity while business strategies evolve.  Confidence can be gathered from looking both to the past and the expected future in determining the best budgeting now. Here are some detailed readings on the topic:

Digital Transformation

Aligning Strategies

Digital Progressions

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Costs of Not Having Results-Oriented Communications (ROC)

 Let’s stop burning money on poor communications. Identifying the actual costs for not having the best communications aimed at specific outcomes and attaining the goals of anyone organization is an elusive task. However, some irrefutable trends point strongly to higher and growing costs. Let's start with some base studies done within the last decade. One study was aimed at large organizations, and the other was at small to medium organizations.

The Past Base Studies:

In "The Cost of Poor Communications," David Grossman reported that a survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees or more each cited and an average loss per company of 62.4 million per year because of inadequate communication to and between employees.

In her article "Top Ten Email Blunders that Cost Companies Money," Debra Hamilton asserted that miscommunication cost even smaller companies of 100 employees an average of $420,000 per year.

It’s Much Worse Today:

If these studies were refreshed, I would assert that the numbers are much higher for several reasons. One is that we are moving to distributed responsibilities and matrix-management styles create confusion over day-to-day priorities operationally, longer-term priorities tactically or strategically. To compound this problem, we can communicate faster-automated collaboration and communication tools across various communication channels.

You Haven’t Seen Anything Yet:

The future of work is hybrid, adding another level of complexity and opportunity for misunderstanding with a potentially new crisis of confidence for the workers at the edge. Recently, Gartner says “By the end of 2021, remote workers will represent 32% of all employees worldwide, impacting how and where remote workers use IT.”   Our employees want and can demand these new freedom levels, and organizations need to get that talent is now hybrid. Unfortunately, this opens us to a more extreme lack of focus and losing perspective on purpose. It also does not optimize innovation; therefore, the credibility of the organization and individuals wanes.

What’s at Stake?

Besides just time and productivity loss because of chaotic communications, project failures have and will continue to be. These, in turn, result in the following:

·        Poor customer service and dissatisfied customers

·        High-stress levels and low employee morale, which can additionally affect productivity and deliverables

·        Higher than average employee turnover rates

·        Loss of company/organizational credibility

·        A decline in sales and stock value

If this list doesn’t get your attention as a business professional, I don’t know what will.

 What Do We Do About It?

Companies with leaders who are highly effective communicators had 47% higher total returns to shareholders over the past five years than firms with leaders who are the least effective communicators.

·        Stop making excuses and commit to getting better.

·        Get a mirror and allocate time and resources to deliver messages through expected results, outcomes, and goals.

·        Leverage methods and technology that deliver results-oriented communications

·        Be persistent and consistent but consider the audience

·        Actively listen and walk the talk

A key to all the above is attitude and the new systems, tools, and processes needed to communicate effectively with teams. Many managers mistake repeating communications fast down multiple communication channels to bathe the employees with more communications hoping they get the intent. Having a communications infrastructure and tools that link every communication with desired results at the stakeholder is a minimum. If all results, goals, and outcomes are documented and shared in a typical data resource that can be pulled into efforts in a real-time fashion, the results will be better. Every time something changes, all interested parties are notified within result/goal/ outcome contexts. We need to embrace results-oriented communications intentions, infrastructure, and tools to deliver a better communications culture over time.

Net; Net:

These few facts represented here are the tip of the iceberg on the breadth and depths of research that has and will demonstrate financial rewards for businesses that communicate well to their employees and the problems that result when they don’t. Switching to a results-oriented communications culture is essential. It doesn't matter if an organization is scared about the present wasteful costs or enticed by higher monetary returns or both; we are now in the world of hybrid work enabled by ROC. It's time to take of the fight against "random tasks."

Additional Reading:

Results-OrientedCommunications Post

Hybrid Work Model Post

Chaotic Communications Post

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Coping with Communications in Chaos

 The amount of confusion and disorder around communications is just growing by the second in the real world. Conservative numbers say we waste over 30% of our effort just dealing with communication issues. Aggressive numbers say that 60% of work is about the work, not the work itself. Much of this work about work is communications. Chaotic communications are a massive drag on productivity. It only gets compounded in organizations changing to meet their changing customer needs and demands for better services and products—all of this while having to produce bigger and better outcomes often measured in profitability. Let’s explore the problems that we all have with chaotic communications and what are the best coping mechanisms going forward.

Dealing with Noise Communications

We get so many communications simultaneously that it is overbearing. Sure we can make rules to put unique touches in our respective spam files/folders, but the influx of contacts is just overwhelming. We need to turn down the noise level by prioritizing communications. Often the coping mechanism is political and topic-based. Unfortunately, this is barely a minimum.

 Grappling with Multiple Roles

Most roles have multiple and many reporting responsibilities, both solid and dotted lines. Many times people are playing various roles, thus adding another dimension to deal with daily. Sometimes the role is a crucial contributor, and sometimes the role is a manager who is responsible for the contribution of others. Each role over time requires a shifting set of emerging priorities which changes which communications are the most important at any given moment.

Keeping Pace with Expected Results.

Because there are so many communications and roles to associate them with, it is hard to keep pace with efforts. Everyone expects all players "to be up on the latest developments", so we find ourselves scrambling to be pertinent to actions and their highly desired results. Speed is increasing, not decreasing, so this is a tiring effort filled with stress.

I'm sure we all can identify with these problems and more, but the big question is, "What are we going to do about it?" We can do several things besides getting "Sick of Slack" and getting "Tired of Teams." So here are some coping mechanisms.

Simplifying Communications

Instead of showing people how much we know or how important we are by droning on with detail, try summarizing and netting things out. It needs to be done carefully not to offend others but still speed up the communication process. It means that we each become "good citizens of communications".  Let others ask for the detail.

Linking Communications to Results

The very best way to prioritize communications is to link them to desired results. If the touches don't deliver results, they become noise and should be set aside or ignored. It requires a simple discipline of prioritizing results and link only essential documents to them.  It will require a new kind of tool that focuses on results, not just to speed up noise communications that we often see in modern collaboration tools.

Proactively Leveraging Shared Content

Often we have to scramble to find all the communications associated with the following activity about to hit us. Imagine all the content saved on a  shared repository organized by results. It will cut the preparation time and link all the key participants to the latest content. Care must be taken not to collect too much stuff and name the content in obvious ways. The best content will float to the top by results pulling content there.

Net; Net:

It's time to focus on the organizational drag that chaotic communications are costing organizations dearly. The digital overload is real and climbing. There continues to be a significant increase in digital meetings, chats, emails, and document reviews. The preparation time it takes to be up to date to contribute is overwhelming and is often done in a reactive mode. Something has to change and will when communications are tied to results. The significant results and their focused activities must be supported by shared and up to the second content in various forms and formats. It’s time to turn chaos to order. It will put passion back into hybrid work and take the struggle out of communications.


Additional Reading:

Results-OrientedCommunications Post

Hybrid Work Model Post


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

The Best Hybrid Work Models Deliver with Results-Oriented Communications

 The hybrid work model is now ubiquitous and has significant momentum. It is a model that blends new work styles that enables employees to work from different locations dynamically: home, office, or on the go. It encourages autonomy and flexibility but keeping it on track puts a significant burden on effective and results-oriented communications. Hybrid models also leverage many traditional and new communication channels. Linking these channels and all their communications is challenging and necessary to deliver the demanded higher performance with great flexibility. Hybrid work models and results-oriented communications go hand in hand. Still, few organizations have a handle on linking results to communications that are the lifeblood of the hybrid work model. Click here for more on results-oriented communications.

Benefits of the Hybrid Work Model:

The benefits of the hybrid work model for the COVID era were plentiful because safety was the number one issue for all involved. Analyzing the benefits now we are down the road a bit yields a clear picture. There are reduced overhead costs exemplified by lowered rent, utilities, office supplies, and such. There is often boosted productivity as office chit-chat is diminished and people are no longer interrupted in a face-to-face fashion. There is also a great reduction in micro-management, which is the bane of real productivity. The commuting is often significantly reduced, and employee well-being is increased because they control their work schedule. Team building occurs quite naturally enabled by better collaboration tools. The benefits are substantial for both the organization and employees; however, it is not all hearts and flowers. Some challenges start to emerge.

Challenges of the Hybrid Work Model:

Both the organization and the employees must up their planning game. Meeting types have to be matched with the kind of supports that is needed. Each participant will have to be considered for remote vs. live. Better resource scheduling by skill type will have to be considered. The level of dress and formality will need to be considered as well. After the meetings, the archiving of issues and solutions linked to actions will need to be recorded and shared will also need a plan. Rethinking the workplace is also necessary. What kind of work can be done remotely, and what should be done in the office is an issue that third-party office spaces can temper?  Management visibility becomes a balancing act. It would be easy to error in the direction of invasive surveillance, so watching deliverables is a better practice. On the other hand, remote workers can easily fall into the trap of thinking they are second-class workers, and fair pay emerges as some locations require more pay than cheaper locations.

Net; Net:

Hybrid Work Models need speedy and innovative solutions that drive organizations towards results-oriented communication infrastructures and tools. Deliverables become the focus of optimizing hybrid work results. These deliverables need to be tied to stakeholder outcomes, requiring technologies that can archive team results and link them to desired outcomes in a shared way. There will be a targeted application of new kinds of collaboration tools that don't just support low-level random communications but link everything to results and outcomes. Hybrid models are here to stay even if COVID dissipates, and we no longer have to deal with threatening scenarios. Hybrid models also optimize on opportunities while linking strategy to operations as they both evolve and optimize.



Monday, July 12, 2021

Results-Oriented Communications Are Now Emerging

 It is becoming painfully evident that traditional communication channels are just not making the grade in these days of group innovation and fast-moving change. Organizations are dealing with communication challenges that are accelerating in today's demanding world. If you have ever had to manage, influence, guide, or participate in or with groups of various people inside or outside your organization, you know how severe communication issues can be. These issues can only be solved by communications focused on results while all participating can be moving towards results in synchronization. The shift from messages only to include pertinent data tracked to results is the best way to find the straightest line to desired outcomes.

The Need for Outside-In Perspectives

Today customer, partner, community, employee’s needs are becoming more prominent in the most successful organizations. The outside-in approach introduces new sources of communications that will be necessary for organizational progress and success. However, it adds more complexity to an already overtaxed and unfocused set of communication channels, methods, tools, and techniques. 

The Need for Laser Focus

The world will not wait for organizations to untangle their communications messes that are growing in complexity by adding more communications on older point-to-point capabilities like email, messaging, voice, project management, and broadcasting tools. Unfortunately, none of these channels is guided by a common set of expected results or goals, leading to a lack of momentum and focus. Often the results are surprise deliverables that the sponsors did not desire or expect. All of this because of weak and unfocused communications and lack of consistent visibility.

 The Need for Broad Skillsets

The overwhelming need for better customer, employee, and partner journeys with shared goals, policies, and guardrails drive more multi-disciplinary teams that break down organizational, skill, and digital domain silos. Of course, specialized skills and training will still be needed, but lateral thinking and rich sets of compound skills assisted by digital bots or knowledge agents will be the norm.

The Need for Innovative Dynamic Experimentation

A world driven by "do it, try it and fix it" is putting additional pressure on the communications infrastructures that exist in organizations today. With iterative methods being all the rage and new digital technologies that deliver incremental results during development, communications take on new importance for keeping all the team members on point. Change is only accelerating and continues to compound communication issues.

The Need for More Collaboration

All of the above puts tremendous momentum in and around collaboration. It is why point-to-point collaboration tools have taken off, and group video tools are all the rage. Unfortunately, not all the team members can be available to keep themselves in the loop, and they will have to scramble to stay pertinent and on point. Imagine a result-oriented approach that prioritizes the critical content and messages under one roof.

Net; Net:

The need for speedy and innovative solutions is driving organizations towards results-oriented communication infrastructures that share meta-data, data, and traditional messaging methods. We are moving away from unguided point-to-point communications that create tangles and confusion to result-oriented communications that share messages, content, and data under a unified infrastructure—all of this synchronized communication leads to a shared pathway to results. The days of "willy-nilly" communications are numbered. Watch this space for more on results-oriented communications, especially in this hybrid work environment ushered in by COVID.




Tuesday, June 22, 2021

What Have People Read in the First Half of 2021

 Thanks to all who have read my posts and especially for the feedback. As momentum swings up in this shift from the lockdown mentality to near full speed, the topics are shifting ever so slightly. There is still a big emphasis on hybrid work and results-driven collaboration, but the demand for top talent is forcing a shift in management attitude as I tried to capture in corporate culture and leadership style posts. The top topics in the last year are Customer Experience/Journeys, Management Improvement, Trends in Digitial, Digital Business Platforms (DBP), Better Ongoing Data Management/Data Mesh, and Real-Time Business Response. See Figure 1 for the last 12 months running. 

The first half of 2021 has all of the trending topics included, but a couple of new topics have popped up. Most organizations want to be more aware, so the interest in Management Cockpits and Real-Time Fast Boards is increasing. Also, organizations are concerned about the direction and progress towards digital transformation. In other words, "Is my digital progress on point?" "Are Management Disciplines Keeping Up with Better Learning?" See Figure 3 for the first half of 2021. Figure 2 identifies the most active countries for the first half of 2021 outside of the US which dominates the number of hits to date (not shown).  Let me know of any topics you would like me to address and I will try unless they are way out of bounds for me. 

                                Figure 1 Top Hits for the Last 12 months 

                                Figure 2 Non-US Hits 

                                Figure 3 Top Hits for the First Half 2021