70% of IT Resources Spent on…Being Boring?

Tom Broering

Tom Broering

Head of Americas Alliances and Channel Sales, Information Intelligence Group at EMC

“We want this to be boring!”

George Florentine, Flatirons Solutions

George Florentine, VP of Engineering at Colorado-based Flatirons Solutions said as we discussed how he guides organizations to shut off legacy hardware and applications, archiving the data into EMC InfoArchive through the use of Flatirons’ Application Retirement EMC Certified Solution.

Usually, he says, it’s an easy sell. The technology of the XML-based repository works beautifully and the savings are substantial.

But clearly, you’re also upending old, established ways of doing things, which can be tricky.

“People don’t like change. We know that up to 70 percent of IT resources is often spent just on maintaining old systems. Why? Because the applications still work, the data is still needed occasionally, and it’s easier to just keep writing that monthly check than to think about blowing things up.”

But sooner or later, things won’t work. “Each day of doing nothing builds a risk debt,” says George. Risk grows as systems age, and one day, data may become inaccessible, which in regulated environments like financial services and healthcare, could trigger millions of dollars’ worth of fines.

Banks and healthcare companies get it,” says George. “They understand risk and want to avoid it. That’s why they’re among our best customers.”

Still, how do you ease the transition? That’s where being boring comes in.

“We had one client,” George recalls, “a giant company running decades-old systems. I mean old, green computer screens. And they were accustomed to working that way. So, instead of forcing them to adapt to whiz-bang touchscreen bleeding edge stuff, we built a web-based interface that mimicked the look and feel of those ancient screens, so users felt comfortable right away. No drama. Boring. But it worked!”

Has your organization reached critical mass with too much IT capital tied up in maintaining old “boring” systems?

The Surprising Dynamics of Time & Productivity in IT

Laurie and Elaine

Laurie and Elaine

Laurie and Elaine are a power team at EMC's IIG Services division, ensuring customers have access to expertise and training across IIG technologies. Share with them your feedback on courseware, custom end user training ideas, or your own tips & tricks for learning new technologies. Expertise: IIG education, training, on-line learning, Six Sigma, IIG technology expertise

Before it was known that light travels faster than sound, we assumed they took an equalSpeed of Light amount of time to arrive anywhere. Similarly, we might think the time to productivity for our IT people is fixed. In fact, how you develop and train your team will put them at very different speeds of adding value to your organization.

In talking to several IIG Education alumni this week, we uncovered a few laws of what we’ll call “Education Physics,” all worth sharing. Follow these, and you’ll find extra time on your hands.

Law 1 – Learning Curves Can Be Accelerated

First, just as light waves slow down through certain materials like water, your newest hires or personnel transfers may be operating less efficiently when first placed in new environments. Targeting people freshly arriving to new roles and placing them in 2-day training can eliminate that sluggish start. As one student told us:

“My greatest time savings came from training.  It sped up my learning curve for my new role. ”

Evaluate the common tasks and deliverables you’ll expect from your new hire. Before or during their transition, ensure they have formal training. Access to a specialist can rapidly whisk away technical questions and zip them up the new technology learning curve.

Law 2 – Knowledge Has a Ripple Effect

Second, the initial proficiency learned is only the beginning of speeding up IT development and application implementation time, as we heard from our students. While it will take a formal class up front to solidify technical fundamentals, likely a few days long, the benefits will ripple through the organization every work day.

As an xCP student shared:

Training 1“It wasn’t until I led a new project developing templates for five business units that I realized how my technical skill could make-or-break the organization’s success. If I couldn’t get others excited and knowledgeable about how to design and edit these templates, our project would never get off the ground. I had used the skills for myself, but seeing them impact the rest of my team was an added benefit I hadn’t thought about initially when I signed up for a class.”

As you think about investing a week or several days for a single team member, think about how those new ideas might reverberate across your teams. Will it spark new motivation? Will it enable you to take on projects you constantly kept on the back burner?

 How you develop and train your team will put them at very different speeds of adding value to your organization

Law 3 – Unseen Forces Can Be Mitigated

Third, a person’s confidence might be tricky to measure, but it’s obvious when it’s lacking. Sometimes the hidden reason you don’t take on a new project, or your team’s hard work on a corporate initiative keeps stalling, can be tied back to a lack of confidence.

It might be as simple as learning a new feature that moves them past staying frozen in fear, to confidently performing their tasks. Cites one student:

“The use of Effective Date is one feature I have found to be a critical security blanket in dealing with the business unit.”

Note the word choice of “security blanket.” This says it all. Whether a new hire or a veteran, a team member’s comfort level with a technology will affect how quickly they attack and solve a problem.

Law 4 – Time Begets Time

This all leads to the universal question of what your teams will do with their new-found time! We asked students, and expected to hear comments like “play Minecraft” or “learn the guitar.” But in fact, as reflective of our highly intelligent and talented user base, a common answer was:

“The more I learn, the more I want to learn and use.”

While the speed of light will slow in water, it can still travel a staggering 100 million meters per second through the most dense of materials – a diamond. Once your teams have confidence in their tools and methodologies, they too will speed through any challenge in any organization. Just follow the laws of “IIG Education Physics,” and invest time in training to gain back time — again and again. Share the new IIG Course Catalog with your teams to get started.

EMC Named a Leader in Enterprise Content Management by Gartner Inc.

Dane Becker

Dane Becker

Product Marketing Manager for EMC Document Sciences xPression, specializing in Customer Communications Management

According to Gartner, the worldwide market for Enterprise Content Management (ECM) software grew by 8.6% last year, indicating that ECM technologies continue to attract more users and deliver value to enterprises worldwide.

At the foundation of ECM is the ability to solve vital business problems by marrying document and content management with workflow, imaging, and compliance. EMC has focused on the Value Office segment of the market and strives to provide measurable value for businesses as they transform the way they work.

These benefits include helping enterprises take control of their content and thereby boost productivity, encourage collaboration, meet compliance initiatives, enable better content-centric processes, and make information easier to share.

ECM solutions and services can be used to help achieve a wide range of productivity goals, including:

  • Improved effectiveness
  • Reduced operational cost
  • Optimized business processes
  • Regulatory compliance, better information governance and e-discovery
  • Attraction and retention of customers

Today, we are pleased to announce that EMC has been recognized as a “Leader” in Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management.”

The report focuses on the ECM software market worldwide and provides a detailed evaluation of 22 enterprise ECM solutions, including EMC Documentum. In addition to rating product capabilities, Gartner analysts also evaluated vendors based on their completeness of vision and ability to execute.

gartner MQ image finalAccording to the report, Leaders have the highest combined scores for Ability to Execute and Completeness of Vision. They are doing well and are prepared for the future with a clearly articulated vision. In the context of ECM, they have strong channel partners, presence in multiple regions, consistent financial performance, broad platform support and good customer support. They are very strong in one or more technologies or vertical markets.

We feel that this type of recognition further reinforces our position to build the most innovative and scalable ECM platform on the market for creating, managing and deploying content-centric business solutions that enable organizations to extend and enrich their existing Value Office capabilities with easy access, sharing, and repurposing of critical content at the center of their business processes, in full compliance with regulations and policies.

To learn more, download the Gartner report and read more on the EMC Pulse blog.

This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request from EMC.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Using Data Standards, Technology and Compliance as a Competitive Advantage

John Heck

John Heck

Director of Business Development Financial Service Industry – North America

Consumers and businesses are familiar with the value of data standards to promote understanding and comparability by providing common and clear definitions. Standards also promote efficiencies and economies of scale. Data interoperability is a challenge since the financial services industry engages with multiple participants, each with its own specific systems. This is often referred to as the “2nd platform”.

IDC’s definition of the 1st platform consisted of classic mainframes and terminal servers; the 2nd platform was based on the more familiar client-server model and the PC generation of systems and software.

Simply stated, the 3rd Platform is the next phase of the IT revolution. The 3rd Platform2nd-3rdplatform is being built on mobile computing, social networking, cloud services, and Big Data analytics technologies. Take a look at Jeroen VanRotterdam’s blog post earlier this year de-mystifying the 3rd Platform.

By the very nature of the industry, it requires connectivity to multiple systems so many disparate systems can bring together different data elements that are required by the new compliance and regulatory entities. IDC believes that the 3rd platform solutions will be the primary growth-driver of the ICT (Information and Communications Technology) industry over the next decade, responsible for 75% of the growth as worldwide industry-spend moves from $3.2 trillion in 2013 to $5.3 trillion by 2020.

Compliance can be a burden, but it can also be used as a transition agent that migrates financial services companies to rely on their existing infrastructures while connecting to 3rd platform solutions that are compliant, create new data standards as well as reduce storage and overall operational costs. 3rd platform solutions allow financial services companies to operate in a compliant environment while also enhancing reporting, new product launches, business growth and increased profitability.

Line-of-business (LOB) executives are fast becoming IT decision makers. According to IDC, “by 2016, 80% of new IT investments will directly involve LOB executives, with LOB’s taking the lead decision-maker role in half or more of those investments. The agility of the LOB will dramatically shift the epicenter of the IT buyer.”Businessman with tablet and clouds 5021049

At EMC, we certainly understand the need to truly understand our customers’ LOB issues and focus on building better 3rd platform technology solutions while establishing deeper relationships with LOB executives as well as maintaining our current relationships with our customer IT counterparties.

3rd platform solutions will in fact become the competitive advantage that will allow many large as well as mid-tier and smaller financial entities to capture new market share by delivering a better business solution. Data standards, compliance and regulatory issues should be used as the innovative stimuli to drive business growth and grow market share!

So are you ready for the 3rd platform innovation paradigm? If you have critical business needs, ascertain how mobility, cloud services, social technologies, and / or Big Data can become your business differentiators; it’s time has come!

Defensible Deletion: Whose Data Is It, Anyway?

Tom Broering

Tom Broering

Head of Americas Alliances and Channel Sales, Information Intelligence Group at EMC

It’s challenging enough to convince CEO’s that some of their company’s legacy data can be safely deleted without creating chaos or triggering cardiac arrest in the legal department.

But the bigger battle will be waged many floors below the executive suite, among workers and end-users who cling to personal files like a mama grizzly guards her cubs. Old emails, personal research, obsolete files, ancient search results long ago rendered useless… this is the stuff that can smother a company’s workflow, kill productivity, and heighten legal risk. It’s also the very data that remains haphazardly squirreled away by possessive employees steeped in the twin cultures of “Save Everything” and “Stuff On My Terminal Is Mine!”

Stephen O'Leary, Controle

Stephen O’Leary, Controle

Stephen O’Leary, Executive Vice President and COO of Chicago-based Controle, arms company leaders with weapons to fight this messy war. Recently he told me how it all begins and ends with attitude adjustment.

“There must be a change in cultural behavior. The ‘CYA’ mentality must end. Workers can’t keep thinking of data as their personal property. It’s not. It’s corporate assets, created on company systems on company time. It belongs to the organization. It cannot be maintained forever at company expense. If it needs to be deleted to protect the organization, employees need to accept that and get on board.”

Easier said than done, Stephen says. Individual workers may not grasp the big picture or understand how today’s data explosion can drown a firm in its own information; how even innocent-looking files can leave an organization vulnerable. He suggests a little shock therapy: share a simple scenario that illustrates what can happen:

“Suppose you’ve downloaded a company payroll report for a specific project. Weeks or months later your project is done, you don’t need the information anymore, but if you haven’t deleted that report, others can still see it, and next thing you know, privileged company data becomes compromised and your company shows up in the Wall Street Journal!”

Unlikely? Ask the lawyers. Personal file shares are tempting targets.

Data deletionHow much extraneous data is actually out there?

“We keep data because of regulations, legal needs or business value,” Stephen says. “Estimates vary, but one study claims as much as 77 percent of a firm’s data falls outside those three categories.”

The right technical solutions and IT experts can use automation to classify the data, identify what can be deleted, and securely store the rest. But all stakeholders should be included in the process. They need to acknowledge their role in protecting the company and aiding in its productivity. Stephen says this can even lead to procedures where end-users can self-classify data on their own going forward, preventing future data buildups, keeping a firm lean, compliant and efficient. He doesn’t see his role as one who “discards” data, rather one who preserves it:

“Bottom line,” he says, “it’s all about storing the right data in the right place for the right amount of time. It’s about Defensible Deletion.”

Do you think employees are protective of their “personal” files, or just don’t take the time to manage them?