Modernizing your Analytics Platform

Sterling Green, VP-Business Intelligence Center of Excellence, SunTrust
577
1049
214

Sterling Green, VP-Business Intelligence Center of Excellence, SunTrust

Are you riding your antiquated technology into the ground? Does the prospect of encountering and managing resistance to change prevent you from initiating efforts to create opportunities for progress? Have you considered the value proposition of modernizing your analytics platform? What role will Big Data play in your future? What role will data visualization play? Are there data sources that would yield business value but are currently unavailable for analysis?

“Change can be disruptive and this disruption may provide an opportunity to examine and evaluate legacy beliefs and practices”

This article will explore the potential benefits of disruptive enablement and the steps you may consider to ameliorate some of the challenges encountered.

The journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step. How you choose to initially characterize your journey and convey that message to your team and user community will have significant impact on your overall experience and ultimate success. Words do matter.

Before you embark on a journey to modernize your analytics platform, you should ask some important questions:

•What are some of the considerations which will inform the architecture, hardware and to tool suite decision process?
•How does your business currently share data and information and is this the most beneficial paradigm to meet your existing and emerging analytics requirements?
•Do you need a clustered file system? What about “BIG DATA”?
•Do your analytics needs warrant in-database analytics, in-memory analytics, or data visualization?
•Are you ready to ingest and analyze social media data sources?
•Do you require high availability?
•Do you want fail-over capabilities for key services? Do you have long running processes which would benefit from checkpoint restart?
•Is there a need to actively monitor and report on system resource consumption and system availability?

These decisions must be explored and decided upon prior to initiating the formal project and should be executed in conjunction with the corporate operating model and enterprise architecture. They may be facilitated by engaging some outside subject matter experts (SMEs) to ensure a comprehensive integration and understanding of capabilities and benefits of adoption.

What are some drivers for change? Change can be disruptive and this disruption may provide an op-portunity to examine and evaluate legacy beliefs and practices that may have outlived their time-honored efficaciousness. Change also provides an opportunity to identify, adopt, and embrace different and current technologies and methods—which could ultimately yield improved ROI, reduced TCO, increased system reliability, stability, and availability.

How do you build an effective foundation for success? Propaedeutic to providing a single point of contact to cultivate and disseminate best practices and cross pollinate subject matter expertise is the establishment of a Center of Excellence. The Center of Excellence can serve as a focal point for technology, process and governance standards and best practices. In addition to the establishment of a Center of Excellence, a SharePoint site to contain reference material including FAQ, Training, Events, and Issues provides an excellent forum to actively engage the user community and ensure continuous flow of information and milestone status.

Furthermore, adoption of an efficacious engagement model, consistent with business process integration and enterprise architecture provides a robust framework for a shared vision and a common set of goals and objectives. A consistent and effective engagement model will ensure a shared experience and provide the leadership necessary to make principled and timely decisions.

What are some of the milestones, opportunities, and challenges? In terms of opportunities, modernization of the architecture and hardware should yield a more cost-effective, scalable, and high-performance environment. This, in turn, enables opportunities for additional and more time-sensitive analyses to inform the real-time decision process. To successfully execute on the implementation plan requires effective project management with consistent and timely participation of the shared services resources (including provisioning), as well as validation of new hardware and architecture and functionality.

What are some high level considerations which enable a successful journey to realize your disruptive enablement efforts? First and foremost, be realistic in establishing timelines and project milestones. This includes all aspects of the overall effort.

Another challenge to consider is that the human element may present with resistance to change. To ameliorate this potential challenge, recurring weekly status meetings and SME-facilitated knowledge transfer/training sessions to demonstrate new capabilities and opportunities for improved processes are essential. It is also essential to understand the significance of the role of the user community and the necessity of comprehensive user acceptance testing.

What are some of the measurable benefits of your disruptive enablement efforts? Improved efficiencies and gained insight are a direct benefit to modernizing your analytics environment and may be empirically demonstrated by executing benchmark processes pre/post modernization activities. Additionally, metadata management, shared resources, audit/regulatory compliance and expanded data access are a few of the ancillary immediate benefits. Moreover, improved performance will lead to increased throughput, more rapid time-to-decision, and will provide an opportunity for expanded data analysis.

Initiating disruptive enablement is not always easy, but the rewards are worth the hard work. Embrace change. Be bold. Be precise. Be persistent. Maintain your principles. Build a sustainable foundation. Communicate early and often. Educate your community. Actively participate in all phases of the effort. Celebrate your successes. Share.

Read Also

Translating Technology into Innovation

Shawn Shell, VP of Consulting, Hitachi Consulting

Technology--the Key to Achieve Extraordinary Visual Experience

Glenn Pinnel, VP, CIO, Benjamin Moore & Co