When Information becomes an Information Asset

Joe Morray

Joe Morray

EMC Information Intelligence Group Worldwide Energy and Engineering Practice

For a number of years, I have observed the successes and challenges in applying information management to the capital projects and operations worlds. It is important to WordCloud EErecognize the value of project and plant information. I frequently refer to creating the Information Asset™. [Since my time with Trinity Technologies and now with EMC, the lawyers urge me to include that little trademark symbol.] The question frequently comes up, when is information an asset?

The concept of the “Information Asset” came about many years ago as a way to raise awareness that information being created through our systems contains considerable value. It needs to be managed just like the corresponding physical assets which it describes.

INFORMATION ASSET: It’s more than data

This is both an opportunity and a challenge. As designers, technologists, and process engineers, we need to describe the information that we create not just as “data”. To make a point, would you describe a physical asset as just concrete or steel?

Like a physical asset, information needs to be maintained, improved, and further extended

Instead, we must think of this information as its own system that supports design, maintenance, and retrofitting, and thus representing huge business value. We need to go from the “cost line” to the “investment line”. Like a physical asset, information needs to be maintained, improved, and further extended as new business requirements are identified. It must be thought of as “living.” This reinforces the need to create work practices to keep information current, to assure the safety and viability of the two other assets: the physical and the human.

Measuring Value and ROI for an Information Asset

Our challenge is to clearly demonstrate that the Information Asset has a return on investment related to the plant or project. Data becomes an asset only when it is  Continue reading

An Unlikely Proving Ground for Healthcare Technology

Michael Graetz

Michael Graetz

VP of EMEA Healthcare Sales at Information Intelligence Group – EMC

In about a week, EMC will be participating in the HIMSS CIO Summit and mhealth conference, October 6 to 8 in Rome, alongside one of our key healthcare partners, Lutech. I will be moderating the opening session on the topic of continuity of care. In preparation for the event, I asked Matteo Tiberi, (who pioneered medical information systems, including wHospital, the first Web-based EMR solution), to share his experiences with EMR and its adoption, as it continues to be a key topic of interest at these industry events.

Matteo Tiberi, Lutech

Matteo Tiberi, Lutech

An Unlikely Proving Ground for Healthcare Technology
by Matteo Tiberi, CEO, Co-Founder, wHospital Division of Lutech

Ever since I began thinking about Electronic Medical Records (EMR) back in graduate school, I’ve taken two lessons to heart:

1. One day, every one of us will be a patient.

2. Any technological advance that doesn’t lead to better patient care really isn’t worth the paper it replaces.

The greatest challenge in developing solutions for the medical community is the unique nature of the client base. Simply put, doctors are strange users. Theirs is not a “data storage” profession. They care for human beings. You can’t always quantify that or break it down digitally. However, with the EMR reality upon us, we must try.

Doctor and touch screen 158245439Finding a suitable proving ground for EMR technology can be challenging. A typical 700-bed hospital may produce as many as 10 million digital documents a year. In most developed nations, bringing in a new system usually means replacing an old one. That means you’re changing hardware, software, and hoping you find a way to alter hardened attitudes as well.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but sometimes the best place to introduce something new, is a place that has nothing. A place where people don’t have as many preconceived notions about how technology should operate.

We tried that in an emerging economy that formerly was part of the Soviet Union, and the results were wonderful. We rolled out the solution in six months. It can take years for a typical Western hospital to fully adapt to a cutting-edge EMR. But when you start with a relatively blank canvas, where no electronic system existed before, where doctors didn’t have a decade to decide what they didn’t like about EMR’s and, no small thing, when the medical system is public and monolithic as opposed to private and full of conflicting interests, things do go much smoother.

Not for a moment do I want to knock democracy, or suggest we were dealing with a community unaware of 21st Century technology or people incapable of making their opinions clear. Quite the contrary. What we heard most often was, “We know what we want!” And they did. Like any consumer buying his first high-tech device, when you start with nothing, but you know what’s out there, you want the very best.

The valuable lessons we learned in this moderate sized (5 million people) community will inform our work going forward for decades to come.

What has been your experience with proving healthcare technology works? Where have you started the process?

Why Hybrid Cloud Makes Sense for Government

Rob Silverberg

Rob Silverberg

Industry Director, Public Sector, Information Intelligence Group - EMC

Government agency technology decision makers are currently in a difficult position.  Government workers desire to access their work files from mobile devices and fromSynP9 multiple home and work locations. They also need to be able to share files easily with coworkers. So these workers look for a one-off way to share files and may leverage consumer cloud based file storage systems. These consumer file sharing systems seem like the quick fix, however, that choice can lead to data security risk and loss of control of confidential information managed by the government agency.

The growing pressure to provide an agency sanctioned cloud file sharing solution leads technology decision makers to look at purchasing cloud file storage. This leads to a second challenge. Once a cloud file sharing solution is purchased and made available to end users, the agency must still protect confidential constituent data, so they often mandate that no confidential data be stored in the cloud based file share. The ongoing risk is that it relies on the user to make the right choice on what is appropriate for sync and share.

In 2013, there were at least 1,367 confirmed data breaches, according to Verizon, and over 63,000 “security incidents,” which include everything from catastrophic leaks to a breach that “compromises the integrity, confidentiality, or availability of an information asset.” Of those, governments around the world accounted for nearly 13% of confirmed breaches and a whopping 75% of “incidents.”

This is where the hybrid cloud model for enterprise file sync and share has a distinct advantage. In the hybrid cloud model, the file storage is partitioned between cloud storage and existing storage in the agency’s own data center. By segmenting file storage location by agency, confidentiality, or by file type, confidential information can be stored in the data center and still accessed easily through cloud sharing tools. Non-confidential data can also take advantage of low cost cloud storage through the same end user tools and apps.

But wait, the cloud based consumer file sharing vendors do not offer hybrid cloud. They do not offer segmented file storage options through a common user experience. They only offer cloud storage.

As government agencies need the ability to keep content easily accessible from anywhere on any device, and yet also keeping content secure, the hybrid cloud for file sync and share can offer just that.

How does your organization currently sync and share files? Is your content sharing secure?

How Much Is Your Big Data Worth?

Mike Kan

Mike Kan

Mike is the head of Channels & Alliances in EMEA, and focuses on how trends, technologies, and products impact the channel in EMEA and globally.

It’s a simple question which many organizations cannot answer.

CapGemini-1-“Very few of our customers know the true cost of their information,” asserts Norbert Piette, Sales Executive for Infrastructure Systems at France-based Capgemini. We were talking about several forms of “opportunity costs”- what it takes to maintain legacy data and applications no longer in active use. For example, the dollars spent on keeping old equipment functioning, continuing to employ staff trained to operate the old systems, and the inherent efficiencies unavailable when systems have not been upgraded are all areas where opportunity is lost. With these in mind, imagine all the money that could be made if the data was put to better use.

Norbert has spent many years helping companies improve operations and profits through intelligent data archiving, most recently with their Cloud-based Enterprise Archive solution (based on the EMC InfoArchive product), which relieves an organization of many IT infrastructure tasks and their associated costs.

“It’s even more basic than that,” Norbert continues, “Companies don’t know their data’s lifecycle, why the data is needed or even where it is. It’s not unusual for data to be scattered about, hidden in unknown nooks and crannies, put there by workers who want to protect their individual projects.”

The point? Disorganization carries a cost at both ends… the high cost of maintenance and the lost revenue that a well-managed system could generate in today’s era of Big Data.

iStock_000027185657SmallAnd Big Data is changing everything.

Thanks to new technologies and ever-more-powerful computing capabilities, the mining and analysis of data is creating not just new ways of selling stuff to people, but new ways for journalists to tell stories, new methods to detect root causes of disease, many new ways to monetize, even new ways to find a taxi in the rain!

“Folks in Singapore wondered why they could never find a cab when it rained,” says Norbert, “until a Big Data analysis discovered insurance companies were denying reimbursement claims when an accident happened in the rain. So cabbies stopped driving as soon as the raindrops began to fall!”

iStock_000028359698SmallAnother Big Data discovery provided new insight into cancer research.

“Researchers dipped into some very old data,” asserts Norbert, emphasizing the “old.” “They were looking for any words that would regularly appear when a certain type of cancer was diagnosed. The name of one particular food kept popping up. Nobody had seen that connection before.”

Such connections can never happen if old data is locked away in some antiquated, inaccessible repository, or in multiple FileShares scattered here and there. And that’s the point. More and more, Norbert says, the data archiving field is no longer just about the past.

“When I began in this field,” recalls Norbert, “I assumed we were just storing old, no-longer-needed information, tucking it away in a safe place, just in case.

“But we’ve gone well beyond that. Intelligent archiving solutions now reach into actual business operations, and the possibilities of Big Data open up brand new horizons.”

So, everything old is new again?

“Yes!” says Norbert, “Old data can be the key to a company’s future, the way a history teacher lights a path forward by showing what came before. Like pulling on a rope, and seeing what gets tugged along with it, once we start re-purposing legacy data in an easily accessible way, you never know where you could end up, and how much more you can do.”

Bottom line: How much is your data worth? A lot more than you think.

What potential new uses can you conceive for your legacy data? Would the possibility of Big Data-related applications and revenue streams create an incentive to upgrade your archive system?

Managing Change, Ready or Not

Howard Savin

Howard Savin

Product Manager, Energy and Engineering Solutions

In a recent blog, I shared thoughts about the importance of change management best practices, particularly the role of PAS-1192 standards in managing major and minor works projects.

I discussed planned projects: Minor works, which can include ongoing maintenance of mature assets, and major works, such as brownfield projects where a plant is expanded or upgraded through add-on construction. For these, change management is critical for cost containment, compliance and meeting broad business objectives. Of course, it’s also crucial for the safety of people and the environment.

But what about those other situations? I’m talking about projects that are thrust upon us in spite of the best possible planning. Or, how about the implications of a system that’s good, but maybe not as great as it could be?

So What If Our Information is a Little Out of Date?

As I was working on this blog, a colleague emailed me with an illustration of how quickly information gets out of date. He, like others in his industry, has parallel projects in motion at all times. To support their large enterprise, maintenance and operations activities are contracted out to a series of vendors.

He described his central challenge as getting as-built drawings and documentation safely 13915545_mback into his “asset vault” as each vendor completes each project. If change management procedures aren’t followed correctly by every contractor, the business experiences a setback: extra follow-up is required to hunt down the information from the contractor and the as-builts have to always be recreated before new work can proceed. His agency was incurring significant extra costs because they not only paid the original contractor, but also paid the next one to recreate documents before they could start the next phase of work.

On top of the budget strain and inaccurate documentation, the lack of a process to keep documents up to date also became a possible safety concern. Projects couldn’t move forward without a clear map of the work that was already completed.

Fortunately, there’s a way to overcome this challenge. These days, all as-built documentation can go back into the “asset vault” through automation. The key is a new way to exchange information with suppliers that automatically saves changes as they are made. And they’ll benefit from better risk management and cost control too.

Now, This is Major

And while energy industry professionals can probably relate to the intricacies of the standards, all of us have seen emergencies in the news that necessitate major works projects—surprise!

A 100-foot-high geyser caused by a broken 30-inch water main under Sunset Boulevard floods the street and the nearby UCLA campus. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

A 100-foot-high geyser caused by a broken 30-inch water main under Sunset Boulevard floods the street and the nearby UCLA campus. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

The recent pipe rupture in Los Angeles springs to mind. Who can forget the pictures and video of cascading waterfalls flooding the Pauley Pavilion gym and a nearby parking structure? Luckily, no one was seriously hurt, but about 400 cars were ruined, and about 20 million gallons of water went down the drain. The warped floor of the sports facility is being replaced at substantial cost.

Turns out, the pipes that failed were over 90 years old and in desperate need of maintenance. Now, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) must accelerate replacement in parallel with daily operations and maintenance activities. It’s a major project that will span several decades.

This situation reflects the change management challenge of supporting major and minor works simultaneously. LA DWP officials have a big job on their hands—and it will be an even larger task if their operating documents and drawings are not up to date!

Prepare for the Inevitable

One thing is clear from these examples: energy and utility companies have much to gain from adhering to best practices for change management, regardless of a project’s size, whether it was planned, or brought on by an unforeseen occurrence. A solution that offers a structured approach can help you manage the changes that are sure to come your way.

Has change management helped you more easily respond to an unexpected situation? Share your experience below.