Companies today face disruptions and business risks the likes of which haven’t been seen in decades. The enterprises that ultimately succeed are the ones that have built up resilience.

To be truly resilient, an organization must be able to continuously gather data from diverse sources, correlate it, draw accurate conclusions, and in near-real time trigger appropriate actions. This requires continuous monitoring of events both within and outside an enterprise to detect, diagnose, and resolve issues before they can cause any damage.  

This is especially true when it comes to enterprise procurement. Upwards of 70% of an organization’s revenue can flow through procurement. This highlights the critical need to detect potential business disruptions, spend leakages (purchases made at sub-optimal prices by deviating from established contracts, catalogs, or procurement policies), non-compliance, and fraud. Large organizations can have a dizzying array of data related to thousands of suppliers and accompanying contracts.

Yet amassing and extracting value from these large amounts of data is difficult for humans to keep up with, as the number of data sources and volume of data only continues to grow exponentially. Current data monitoring and analysis methods are no longer sufficient.

“While periodic spend analysis was okay up until a few years ago, today it’s essential that you do this kind of data analysis continuously, on a daily basis, to spot issues and address them quicker,” says Shouvik Banerjee, product owner for ignio Cognitive Procurement at Digitate.

Enterprises need a tool that continuously monitors data so they can use their funds more effectively. Companies across industries have found success with ignio Cognitive Procurement, an AI-based analytics solution for procure-to-pay. The solution screens purchase transactions to detect and predict anomalies that increase risk, spend leakage, cycle time, and non-compliance.

For example, the product flags purchase requests with suppliers who have a poor track record of compliance with local labor laws. Likewise, it flags urgent purchases whose fulfillment is likely to be delayed based on patterns observed in similar transactions in the past.  It also flags invoices that need to be prioritized to take advantage of early payment discounts.

“It’s a system of intelligence versus other products in the market, which are systems of record,” says Banerjee. Not only does ignio Cognitive Procurement analyze an organization’s array of transactions, it also takes into account relevant market data on suppliers and categories on a daily basis.

ignio Cognitive Procurement is unique for its ability to correlate what’s currently happening in the market with what’s going on inside an organization, and it makes specific recommendations to stakeholders. For example, the solution can simplify category managers’ work, helping them source the best deals for their company, or make decisions such as whether to place an order now or hold off for a month.

Charged with finding the best suppliers and monitoring their success within the context of the market, category managers work better and smarter when they can tap into ignio Cognitive Procurement.

ignio Cognitive Procurement also identifies other opportunities to save money and improve the effectiveness of procurement. For instance, the solution proactively makes business recommendations that seamlessly take into account not only price, but also a variety of key factors like timeliness, popularity, external market indicators, suppliers’ market reputation, and their legal, compliance, and sustainability records.

“Companies also use the software to analyze that part of spend that’s not happening through contracts,” says Banerjee, “and they’ve been able to identify items which have significant price variance.”

To avoid irreversible damage or missed opportunities and to keep a competitive advantage, organizations across industries urgently need an AI-based analytics solution for procure-to-pay that can augment their human capabilities.

To learn more about Digitate’signio Cognitive Procurement, click here.

Analytics, IT Leadership

If you’re planning a career as an enterprise architect, certifications are a great way to validate your enterprise architecture (EA) skills. As an enterprise architect, you’ll be responsible for developing the IT strategy for a business that keeps business goals in line with IT goals. Companies rely heavily on technology, so IT is now a foundational part of any strong business strategy. These certifications test your EA skills, knowledge, and abilities working with frameworks, tools, software, and best practices.

Whether you want to focus on cloud, applications, software, or other areas of enterprise architecture, one or more of these 15 certifications will help strengthen your resume.

Top 15 enterprise architecture certifications

AWS Certified Solution Architect
Axelos ITIL Master certification
Certified Pega Robotics System Architect
Certified Pega System Architect certification
CISSP Information Systems Security Architecture Professional (CISSIP-ISSAP)
EC Council Certified Network Defense Architect (CNDA)
Google Professional Cloud Architect
ITIL v3 Master certification
The Open Group Certified Architect (Open CA)
The Open Group TOGAF 9 Certification
Professional Cloud Solutions Architect Certification
Red Hat Certified Architect
Salesforce Certified Technical Architect (CTA)
Virtualization Council Master Infrastructure Architect
Zachman Certified – Enterprise Architect

AWS Certified Solution Architect

The AWS Certified Solution Architect exam covers building an architectural design solution based on customer or client requirements, delivering best practices for implementation and overseeing the long-term management of an EA project. You’ll need hands-on experience with all AWS computer, networking, storage, and database services to pass the exam. The exam covers topics such as how to deploy, manage, and operate workloads on AWS, implement security controls and compliance requirements, identify the right AWS services to meet technical requirements, and knowledge of topics such as AWS Management Console, Command Line Interface (CLI), and more. You won’t have to take a course to pass the exam, but Amazon recommends at least six months to two years of hands-on experience using AWS before you attempt the exam. You can also download practice exams and training materials directly from Amazon to help you prepare for the exam.

Cost: $150

Certified Pega System Architect certification

The Certified Pega Systems Architect certification is designed for developers and other technical staff members who want to learn how to develop Pega applications. It’s an entry-level certification on the path to the Systems Architect certification path from Pega Academy. The certification path includes two more levels of certification with the Senior System Architect and Lead System Architect exams. The Senior System Architect covers topics such as application development, case management, data and integration, user experience, reporting, performance, security, and mobility. The Lead System Architect exam covers Pega platform, application, data model, user experience, security, reporting, asynchronous processing, work delegation, deployment, and testing design.

Cost: $175 per exam

Certified Pega Robotics System Architect

The Certified Pega Robotics System Architect certification is designed for systems architects and software developers interested in improving their skills with robotic automation and workforce intelligence. The certification covers the fundamentals of robotic automation, process flows, terminology, and the core building blocks of the Pega Robo Studio software. The course covers 15 modules with 10 challenges to help teach you how to “integrate robotic automations with Windows and web applications” and how to test your solutions with debugging tools. The exam covers topics such as case management, data and integration, security, DevOps, user experience, application development, reporting, and mobility.

Cost: $175

CISSP Information Systems Security Architecture Professional (CISSIP-ISSAP)

The CISSIP-ISSAP certification is designed for professionals with a Certified Information Systems Security Professionals (CISSIP) certification who want to add a concentration in architecture. You’ll need to have your CISSP certification in addition to two years of experience working with one or more domains in the CISSP-ISSAP common body of knowledge (CBK). The certification validates your ability to develop, design, and analyze security solutions and to give risk-based guidance to help senior management meet business goals. The exam covers knowledge domains such as architect for governance, compliance and risk management, security architecture modeling, infrastructure security architecture, identity and access management (IAM) architecture, application security, and security operations architecture.

Cost: $599

EC Council Certified Network Defense Architect (CNDA)

The Certified Network Defense Architect (CNDA) certification from EC Council is specifically designed for government and military agencies, with a focus on security and compliance. You’ll need to earn your CEH certification and be employed by a government or military agency or be a contracted employee of the government before you can take the CNDA course. It’s similar to the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) and it’s intended for individuals who are trusted by their employer to “undertake an attempt to penetrate networks and/or computer systems using the same methods as a hacker,” according to the EC Council.

Cost: $200

Google Professional Cloud Architect

The Google Professional Cloud Architect certification demonstrates your abilities working with Google Cloud technologies. The certification is designed to validate that you have the necessary understanding of cloud architecture and Google technology, and that you know how to design, develop, and manage secure, scalable, dynamic solutions to drive business objectives. The exam covers topics such as how to design and plan cloud solution architecture for security and compliance, manage cloud infrastructure, analyze and optimize business processes, and oversee the implementation of cloud architecture. There are no prerequisites for the exam, but it must be taken in-person at an official testing center location.

Cost: $200

ITIL 4 Master certification

ITIL is a popular IT management framework used by enterprise architects to help manage service processes. If you work in an ITSM environment with the ITIL framework, the ITIL Master Certification from Axelos is useful for demonstrating your aptitude in service management. The certification validates that you have the necessary skills and abilities to apply ITIL principles, methods, and techniques in a corporate environment. To earn the certification, you “must be able to explain and justify how you have personally selected and applied a range of knowledge, principles, methods, and techniques from the ITIL Framework” and demonstrate your practical experience. Therefore, the exam is different for every candidate based off their own personal experience with ITIL in their careers. To qualify for the ITIL Master, you need at least five years of experience in ITSM in a leadership, managerial, or higher management advisory role. You’ll also need to earn the ITIL managing professional and ITIL strategic leader certifications before you can move onto the ITIL Master exam.

Cost: Exam fees vary by vendor

The Open Group Certified Architect (Open CA)

There are three levels of Open CA certification: Certified (Level 1), Master (Level 2), and Distinguished (Level 3). Unlike other certifications, you won’t have to take a course or pass an exam to earn your Open CA certification. Instead, it’s a program that requires applicants to “demonstrate skills and experience against a set of conformance requirements through written applications and peer reviews,” according to The Open Group. The certification is targeted at business, digital, enterprise, and solutions architects. You can use the online self-assessment tool to determine your potential qualifications for the first two levels of certification.

Cost: $1,250 with an annual renewal fee of $175 and recertification every three years for $250

The Open Group TOGAF Certification

TOGAF is one of the most used frameworks for enterprise architecture, which makes it a useful certification to add to your resume. The TOGAF certification is a globally recognized and vendor-neutral certification that will demonstrate your skills using the TOGAF framework to implement and manage enterprise technology. It’s offered through The Open Group and there are two levels of certification: the TOGAF 9 Foundation (Level 1) certification and the Level 2 certification, which you can take once you pass the first exam. There are also three new certifications designed to tie in the latest version, TOGAF 10, which was released earlier this year. This includes the TOGAF Enterprise Architecture Foundation or Practitioner certifications and the TOGAF Business Architecture Foundation certification.

Cost: $360 per exam

Professional Cloud Solutions Architect Certification

Offered by the Cloud Credential Council (CCC), the Professional Cloud Solutions Architect certification is designed for technology, application, system, and enterprise architects, as well as cloud strategy consultants and senior developers. The certification course covers ITaaS, cloud computing and service management, customer requirements, implementing cloud technology and evaluating cloud solution architecture. It’s targeted at technology, application, system, and enterprise architects as well as cloud strategy consultants and senior developers. There aren’t any requirements to take the exam, but it’s recommended that you earn your Cloud Technology Associate and TOGAF 9 certifications first.

Cost: $495 for the self-study materials and an exam voucher

Red Hat Certified Architect

The Red Hat Certified Architect certification includes the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE), Red Hat Certified Enterprise Microservices Developer (RHCEMD), and Red Hat Certified JBoss Developer (RHCJD), which is the highest certification tier. To reach each level of certification, you’ll need to pass a handful of certifications on the systems administrator path or developer path. With the number of certification options, you can customize your certification path for your career by focusing on specific skills and technologies. The cost of each course varies depending on the subject matter and your location, but they run anywhere from $1,500 to around $4,000.

Cost: Fees vary depending on the course and location, but you can purchase a year-long learning subscription for either $5,500 or $7,000, depending on how many course credits you want.

Salesforce Certified Technical Architect (CTA)

The Salesforce Certified Technical Architect (CTA) certification demonstrates your knowledge, skills, and ability to design and build solutions on the Salesforce platform. You’ll first have to earn your Certified Application Architect or Certified Systems Architect certifications before you can move onto the CTA exam. To earn your Salesforce CTA certification, you’ll also have to pass the Technical Architect Review Board exam. You’ll be provided with hypothetical situations, be given customer requirements, and then be asked to design an architecture solution. You have two hours to prepare and then four hours to present to the judges, including time for breaks.

Cost: $200 per exam and an additional $6,000 to pass the Technical Architect Review Board exam

Virtualization Council Master Infrastructure Architect

The Virtualization Council offers four certifications for popular virtualization products. Although the certifications focus on products from VMware, Microsoft, Xen, and Virtual Iron products, the exams are vendor neutral. The Virtualization Council is made up by a group of “industry-leading experts who have joined forces to create an organization which can offer an independent route to certification.” Membership is free, and the council focuses on offering certifications in four of the biggest virtualization platforms currently available. Each exam covers a specific enterprise architecture platform, so you can pick and choose the tools that align best with your career.

Cost: $125 per exam

Zachman Certified – Enterprise Architect

The Zachman Framework is a popular matrix-style framework that helps organizations manage and oversee enterprise architecture. The Zachman Certified Enterprise Architect certification scheme includes four levels of certification: associate, practitioner, professional, and educator. The associate level exam focuses on the fundamentals of the Zachman framework and teaches you how to apply framework concepts to real-world scenarios. The practitioner and professional level exams further build off the associate-level exam, introducing how the methodology can be used to produce architecture models and implementation models. At the educator level of certification, the exam focuses on those who wish to create and teach curriculum based on the Zachman Framework concepts. Certification is offered via virtual workshops, either self-paced or instructor-led.

Cost: $2,999

More on advancing enterprise architecture:

What is an enterprise architect? A vital role for IT operations7 traits of successful enterprise architectsThe dark secrets of enterprise architectureTop 18 enterprise architecture toolsWhy you need an enterprise architectEnterprise architects as digital transformersCareers, Certifications, Enterprise Architecture, IT Skills

Enterprise architecture definition

Enterprise architecture (EA) is the practice of analyzing, designing, planning, and implementing enterprise analysis to successfully execute on business strategies. EA helps organizations structure IT projects and policies to achieve desired business results, to stay agile and resilient in the face of rapid change, and to stay on top of industry trends and disruptions using architecture principles and practices, a process also known as enterprise architectural planning (EAP).

Modern EA strategies now extend this philosophy to the entire business, not just IT, to ensure the business is aligned with digital transformation strategies and technological growth. EA is especially useful for large businesses going through digital transformation, because it focuses on bringing legacy processes and applications together to form a more seamless environment.

Goals of enterprise architecture

EA is guided by the organization’s business requirements — it helps lay out how information, business, and technology flow together. This has become a priority for businesses that are trying to keep up with new technologies such as the cloud, IoT, machine learning, and other emerging trends that will prompt digital transformation.

The process is driven by a “comprehensive picture of an entire enterprise from the perspectives of owner, designer, and builder,” according to the EABOK. Unlike other frameworks, EA doesn’t include a formal documentation structure; instead, it’s intended to offer a more holistic view of the enterprise.

Another main priority with EA is agility and ensuring that your EA strategy has a strong focus on agility and agile adoption. With a solid EA strategy, companies can better weather complex and fast-moving change, and can even put your organization in a position to thrive during turbulent times. Organizations that scored in the top quartile for EA maturity in a recent Bizzdesign survey were three times more likely to report having organizational agility, which has been crucial during the past few years with the COVID-19 pandemic. Only 20% of respondents said that their EA programs allowed for faster innovation and faster time to market, while just 6% claimed that enterprise architects were included in agile teams and had the authority to influence technology decisions.

A good EA strategy considers the latest innovations in business processes, organizational structure, agility, information systems, and technologies. It will also include standard language and best practices for business processes, including analyzing where processes can be integrated or eliminated throughout the organization. The goal of any good EA strategy is to improve the efficiency, timeliness, and reliability of business information. Of course, to implement any EA strategy, you will also need to ensure that you have buy-in from other executives and stakeholders.

EA, and its goals, however, are constantly evolving. According to Bizzdesign’s survey of over 1,000 enterprise architects and IT business leaders, the top priorities to improve the impact of EA in 2022 include improving communication about the value of EA to the business (56%) as well as improving the development and adoption of EA processes (50%). Other priorities include delivering more strategic insights (41%), getting more active support from senior management (33%), and investing in additional EA resources, training, and certification (32%).

Benefits of enterprise architecture

There are several benefits to enterprise architecture, including resiliency and adaptability, managing supply chain disruptions, staff recruitment and retention, improved product and service delivery, and tracking data and APIs. EA can offer support for redesigns and reorganization, especially during major organizational changes, mergers, or acquisitions. It’s also useful for bringing more discipline into the organization by standardizing and consolidating processes for more consistency.

Bizzdesigns asked respondents what IT benefits their EA program currently delivers and the top response was improved IT investment decisions. Other benefits include improved service-orientation via APIs and the cloud, rationalized and less costly application portfolios, reduced risk and cost of unsupported technology, improved information management and security, solutions to reuse existing IT assets, better performance and resilience, faster and more successful implementations and updates, and better automation.

In terms of business benefits, respondents cited improvements with the alignment of capabilities with strategy, business investment decisions, compliance and risk management, business processes, collaboration between functions, business insights, business agility and continuity, and a faster time to market and innovation. Companies leading the way for EA maturity were more likely to cite experiencing these benefits from the company’s EA strategy compared to the companies that are lagging behind in EA maturity.

EA is also used in systems development, IT management and decision-making, and IT risk management to eliminate errors, system failures, and security breaches. It can also help businesses navigate complex IT structures or to make IT more accessible to other business units.

According to CompTIA, benefits of EAP include:

Allowing more open collaboration between IT and business units
Giving business the ability to prioritize investments
Making it easier to evaluate existing architecture against long-term goals
Establishing processes to evaluate and procure technology
Giving comprehensive view of IT architecture to all business units outside of IT
Providing a benchmarking framework to compare results against other organizations or standards

Enterprise architecture methodologies

Enterprise architecture can appear vague as a framework because it’s meant to address the entire organization, instead of individual needs, problems, or business units. Therefore, several more specific frameworks have evolved to help companies effectively implement and track EAP, including the following four leading EA methodologies, according to CompTIA:

The Open Group Architectural Framework (TOGAF): TOGAF provides principles for designing, planning, implementing, and governing enterprise IT architecture. The TOGAF framework helps businesses create a standardized approach to EA with a common vocabulary, recommended standards, compliance methods, suggested tools and software and a method to define best practices. The TOGAF framework is widely popular as an enterprise architect framework, and according to The Open Group it’s been adopted by more than 80% of the world’s leading enterprises.
The Zachman Framework for Enterprise ArchitectureThe Zachman framework is named after one of the original founders of enterprise architecture and it’s another popular EA methodology. It’s better understood as a “taxonomy,” according to CompTIA, and it spans six architectural focal points and six primary stakeholders to help standardize and define the IT architecture components and outputs.
Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework (FEAF): FEAF was introduced in 1996 as a response to the Clinger-Cohen act, which introduced mandates for IT effectiveness in federal agencies. It’s designed for the U.S. government, but it can also be applied to private companies that want to use the framework.
Gartner: After acquiring The Meta Group in 2005, Gartner established best practices for EAP and adapted them into the company’s general consulting practices. While it’s not an individual framework, CompTIA recognizes it as a “practical” methodology that focuses on business outcomes with “few explicit steps or components.”

Other EA methodologies include the European Space Agency Architectural Framework (ESAAF), the Ministry of Defence Architecture Framework (MODAF), and the SAP Enterprise Architecture Framework, among many others. These frameworks are specifically targeted to individual industries or products, targeting more of a niche market than the more generalized EA methodologies listed above.

Enterprise architect role

Enterprise architects typically report to the CIO or other IT managers. They’re responsible for analyzing business structures and processes to see that they align with business goals effectively and efficiently. As an enterprise architect, you’ll also be responsible for ensuring these structures and processes are agile and durable, so they can swiftly adapt and withstand major change.

It’s a lucrative role, with a reported average salary of $137,900 per year, with a reported salary range of $97,000 to $201,000 per year, according to data from PayScale. Enterprise architects often go on to work as a CTO, software engineering or development director, or CIO.

To become an enterprise architect, you’ll need an undergraduate degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field and at least 10 years of experience in IT or a related field. You’ll also need hands-on experience working with computer systems, hard drives, mainframes, and other architecture technology. Enterprise architects need several soft skills to be successful, including communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, leadership, and teamwork.

According to PayScale, the most commonly reported hard skills for an IT enterprise architect include:

Microsoft SharePoint Server
Artificial intelligence (AI)
Microsoft Azure
Data warehouse
Business intelligence
Data modeling
Strategy development
Enterprise solutions
Enterprise application integration
Software architecture

For more see, “7 traits of successful enterprise architecture.”

Enterprise architecture tools and software

Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint are the two most basic tools you’ll use for enterprise architectural planning. However, there are other third-party tools and software suites that will help you create advanced EA strategies for your business.

There are plenty of ways to integrate EA tools into your organization so that they support other systems and processes in the business. In the Bizzdesign survey, respondents were asked which systems and content types were integrated into the company’s EA management tools and business process models (59%), data modeling system (49%), project management tools (35%), ITSM tool (31%), and configuration management platform (31%) were among the top five responses.

According to data from Gartner Peer Insights, here are some of the popular options currently on the market:

Orbus Software
Sparx Systems
Software AG
Avolution
Mega
Erwin
BiZZdesign
Planview
SAP
BOC Group

For a deeper look, see “Top enterprise architecture tools.”

Enterprise architecture certifications

There are several certifications you can earn to demonstrate your EA skills, including more specific certifications that focus on skills like cloud and security architecture.

Certifications for enterprise architecture include:

TOGAF 9 Certification
The Open group Certified Architect (Open CA)
AWS Certified Solution Architect
Salesforce Certified Technical Architect (CTA)
Axelos ITIL Master certification
Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert
Google Professional Cloud Architect
Virtualization Council Master Infrastructure Architect certification
CISSP Information Systems Security Architecture Professional (ISSAP)
Dell EMC Cloud architect training and certification
Red Hat Certified Architect
EC Council Certified Network Defense Architect (CNDA)

See also: 12 certifications for enterprise architects.

Origins of enterprise architecture

EA began in the 1960s, born from “various architectural manuscripts on Business Systems Planning (BSP) by Professor Dewey Walker,” according to the Enterprise Architecture Book of Knowledge (EABOK). John Zachmann, one of Walker’s students, helped formulate those documents into the more structured format of EA. Both men also worked for IBM during this time, and that’s when Zachman published the framework in the IBM Systems Journal in 1987.

The EA framework came as a response to the increase of business technology, especially in the 1980s when computer systems were just taking hold in the workplace. Companies soon realized they would need a plan and long-term strategy to support the rapid growth of technology and that remains true today.

More on enterprise architecture:

Five areas where EA matters more than ever
The dark secrets of enterprise architecture
7 enterprise architecture mistakes to avoid
5 steps to minimum viable enterprise architecture
7 traits of successful enterprise architects
Top enterprise architecture tools
Enterprise architecture in the agile era: Loss policing, more coaching
Top certifications for enterprise architects
6 reasons to invest in enterprise architecture tools
What is an enterprise architect? A vital role for IT operations
Enterprise Architecture, IT Governance Frameworks, IT Leadership, IT Strategy

Every enterprise needs a data strategy that clearly defines the technologies, processes, people, and rules needed to safely and securely manage its information assets and practices.

As with just about everything in IT, a data strategy must evolve over time to keep pace with evolving technologies, customers, markets, business needs and practices, regulations, and a virtually endless number of other priorities.

Here’s a quick rundown of seven major trends that will likely reshape your organization’s current data strategy in the days and months ahead.

1. Real-time data gets real — as does the complexity of dealing with it

CIOs should prioritize their investment strategy to cope with the growing volume of complex, real-time data that’s pouring into the enterprise, advises Lan Guan, global data and AI lead at business consulting firm Accenture.

Guan believes that having the ability to harness data is non-negotiable in today’s business environment. “Unique insights derived from an organization’s data constitute a competitive advantage that’s inherent to their business and not easily copied by competitors,” she observes. “Failing to meet these needs means getting left behind and missing out on the many opportunities made possible by advances in data analytics.”

The next step in every organization’s data strategy, Guan says, should be investing in and leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to unlock more value out of their data. “Initiatives such as automated predictive maintenance on machinery or workforce optimization through operational data are only a few of the many opportunities enabled by the pairing of a successful data strategy with the impactful deployment of artificial intelligence.”

2. In-house data access demands take center stage

CIOs and data leaders are facing a growing demand for internal data access. “Data is no longer just used by analysts and data scientists,” says Dinesh Nirmal, general manager of AI and automation at IBM Data. “Everyone in their organization — from sales to marketing to HR to operations — needs access to data to make better decisions.”

The downside is that providing easy access to timely, relevant data has become increasingly challenging. “Despite massive investments, the data landscape within enterprises is still overly complex, spread across multiple clouds, applications, locations, environments, and vendors,” Nirmal says.

As a result, a growing number of IT leaders are looking for data strategies that will allow them to manage the massive amounts of disparate data located in silos without introducing new risk and compliance challenges. “While the need for data access internally is rising, [CIOs] also have to keep pace with rapidly evolving regulatory and compliance measures, like the EU Artificial Intelligence Act and the newly released White House Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights,” Nirmal says.

3. External data sharing gets strategic

Data sharing between business partners is becoming far easier and much more cooperative, observes Mike Bechtel, chief futurist at business advisory firm Deloitte Consulting. “With the meaningful adoption of cloud-native data warehouses and adjacent data insights platforms, we’re starting to see interesting use cases where enterprises are able to braid their data with counterparties’ data to create altogether new, salable, digital assets,” he says.

Bechtel envisions an upcoming sea change in external data sharing. “For years, boardroom and server room folks alike have talked abstractly about the value of having all this data, but the geeks among us have known that the ability to monetize that data required it to be more liquid,” he says. “Organizations may have petabytes of interesting data, but if it’s calcified in an aging on-premises warehouse, you’re not going to be able to do much with it.”

4. Data fabric and data mesh adoption rises

Data fabric and data mesh technologies can help organizations squeeze the maximum value out of all the elements in a technical stack and hierarchy in a practical and usable manner. “Many enterprises still utilize legacy solutions, old and new technologies, inherited policies, processes, procedures, or approaches, but wrestle with having to blend it all within a new architecture that enables more agility and speed,” says Paola Saibene, principal consultant at IT advisory firm Resultant.

Mesh enables an organization to draw the information and insights it needs from the environment in its current state without having to radically change it or massively disrupt it. “This way, CIOs can take advantage of [tools] they already have, but add a layer on top that allows them to make use of all those assets in a modern and fast way,” Saibene explains.

Data fabric is an architecture that enables the end-to-end integration of various data pipelines and cloud environments through the use of intelligent and automated systems. The fabric, especially at the active metadata level, is important, Saibene notes. “Interoperability agents will make it look like everything is incredibly well-connected and has been intentionally architected that way,” she says. “As such, you’re able to gain all the insights you need while avoiding having to overhaul your environment.”

5. Data observability becomes business-critical

Data observability extends the concept of data quality by closely monitoring data as it flows in and out of the applications. The approach provides business-critical insights into application information, schema, metrics, and lineage, says Andy Petrella, founder of data observability provider, Kensu, and the author of Fundamentals of Data Observability (O’Reilly, 2022).

A key data observability attribute is that it acts on metadata, providing a safe way to monitor data directly within applications. As sensitive data leaves the data pipeline; it’s collected by a data observability agent, Petrella says. “Thanks to this information, data teams can troubleshoot data issues faster and prevent them from propagating, lowering maintenance costs, restoring trust in data, and scaling up value creation from data,” he adds.

Data observability creates an entirely new solution category, Petrella claims. “CIOs should first understand the different approaches to observing data and how it differs from quality management,” he notes. They should then identify the stakeholders in their data team, since they will be responsible for adopting observability technology.

An inability to improve data quality will likely hinder data team productivity while decreasing data trust across the entire data chain. “In the long term, this could push data activities into the background, impacting the organization’s competitiveness and ultimately its revenue,” Petrella states.

IT leaders are contending with soaring complexity and unfathomable volumes of data spread across the technology stack, observes Gregg Ostrowski, executive CTO of Cisco AppDynamics. “They’re having to integrate a massively expanding set of cloud-native services with existing on-premise technologies,” he notes. “From a data strategy perspective, the biggest trend is the need for IT teams to get clear visualization and insight in their applications irrespective of domain, whether on-premises, in the cloud or hybrid environments.”

6. ‘Data as a product’ begins delivering business value

Data as a product is a concept that aims to solve real-world business problems through the use of blended data captured from many different sources. “This capture-and-analyze approach provides a new level of intelligence for companies that can result in a real, bottom-line impact,” says Irvin Bishop, Jr., CIO at Black & Veatch, a global engineering, procurement, consulting, and construction company.

Understanding how to harvest and apply data can be a game-changer in many ways, Bishop states. He reports that Black & Veatch is working with clients to develop data product roadmaps and establish relevant KPIs. “One example is how we utilize data within the water industry to better manage the physical health of critical infrastructure,” he notes. “Data gives our water clients the ability to predict when a piece of equipment will likely need to be replaced and what type of environmental impact it can withstand based on past performance data.” Bishop says that the approach gives participating clients more control over service reliability and their budgets.

7. Cross-functional data product teams arise

As organizations begin treating data as a product, it’s becoming necessary to establish product teams that are connected across IT, business, and data science sectors, says Traci Gusher, data and analytics leader at business advisory firm EY Americas.

Data collection and management shouldn’t be classified as just another project, Gusher notes. “Data needs to be viewed as a fully functional business area, no different than HR or finance,” she claims. “The move to a data product approach means your data will be treated just like a physical product would be — developed, marketed, quality controlled, enhanced, and with a clear tracked value.”

Analytics, Data Management

The first half of 2022 was busy for M&A activity in the IT and business services market, according to deal advisor Hampleton Partners. They counted 699 deals in the period, almost double from last year.

Larger IT services players were among the hungriest acquirers, driving up company valuations in their haste to snap up niche players and fill gaps in their domain expertise, Hampleton said. CIO.com’s research shows NTT Data and IBM were particularly busy in this area.

There’s also increasing demand for IT security consulting companies, the advisor said. Our colleagues at CSOonline have the rundown on cybersecurity M&A activity.

For CIOs, these deals can disrupt strategic rollouts, spell a need to pivot to a new solution, signal the potential sunsetting of essential technology, provide new opportunities to leverage newly synergized systems, and be a bellwether of further shifts to come in the IT landscape. Keeping on top of activity in this area can help your company make the most of emerging opportunities and steer clear of issues that often arise when vendors combine.

Here, CIO.com rounds up some of the most significant tech M&As in recent months that could impact IT.

NTT Data buys Mulesoft consulting firm

Integration platform MuleSoft still belongs to Salesforce, but NTT Data is buying itself a bigger slice of the MuleSoft consulting market by acquiring Apisero. Around 1,500 of Apisero’s staff are certified on MuleSoft, for which it provides system integration and managed services from offices around the world, although the majority of its staff are in India. Also in September, NTT Data snapped up the much smaller Umvel, a Mexican digital engineering company.

Big Blue buys little Texan firm

IBM has continued a run of small acquisitions in niche markets, this time buying Dialexa, a software product engineering firm with offices in Dallas and Chicago. The company develops software for other companies’ products — anything from robot mowers to energy trading — and will become part of IBM Consulting.

Ricoh enlarges office communications division with Cenero

Ricoh has bought audiovisual services specialist Cenero to expand its IT services offering in North America. Ricoh already offers managed services around Microsoft Teams Rooms, and its acquisition of Cenero will help it add other unified communications capabilities. Ricoh is trying to reinvent itself as a digital services provider, with a target to make over 60% of its revenue from such services by 2025. It has a way to go: in the second quarter of 2022, digital services accounted for only 40% of revenue, with office printing still making up almost half.

SandboxAQ buys another slice of the crypto auditing market

SandboxAQ, an enterprise SaaS company that spun out of Google in March, has bought young French SaaS provider Cryptosense. SandboxAQ’s first product was a tool to help enterprises inventory and audit all the cryptographic systems they use. Cryptosense is in the same business. Both companies want to help enterprises secure their systems against the threat posed to traditional cryptography by quantum computing.

Stratus Technologies joins Smart Global Holdings

Edge computing vendor Stratus Technologies is now part of Smart Global Holdings, a memory module maker and owner of the Cree lighting brand and an IoT company called Penguin Solutions. The company sees the $225 million deal as a way to expand the range of enterprise IT services it offers.

Zaloni sells its data governance platform to Truist

Zaloni has sold its Arena data governance platform to US bank Truist Financial. Zaloni’s chief product officer and chief technology officer will also join the bank, hoping the analytics and metadata management platform will help reduce its IT costs.

Sage marches into workflow automation

Accounting software vendor Sage has acquired Lockstep, a small Seattle company that automates inter-company accounting workflows. The move will help Sage customers exchange financial data not only with other Sage customers, but also businesses using the 40 other accounting platforms that Lockstep works with.

Signal AI extends its trend monitoring reach

Signal AI, the developer of a platform for identifying business trends in news coverage, has acquired Kelp, a reputation monitoring firm. Kelp is a Signal AI customer, using its External Intelligence platform to monitor corporate reputations and the factors that influence them to help enterprises develop data-driven ESG strategies.

DocHub joins airSlate to consolidate workflows

With its acquisition of DocHub, workflow automation company airSlate will be able to expand its e-signature offering for enterprises.

MariaDB buys CubeWerx

MariaDB has bought CubeWerx, a developer of geospatial software. It plans to add the capabilities to its managed cloud database service, MariaDB SkySQL. The company is named for the open-source database MariaDB, which forked from MySQL when Oracle acquired it in 2010.

Salesforce rallies Troops with Slack

In July, Salesforce completed its acquisition of Troops.ai, which provides tools for delivering up-to-date revenue information to sales teams. Salesforce will fold Troops into its Slack communications platform.

Infosys builds base in life sciences consulting

Consulting giant Infosys has swallowed small Danish firm Base Life Science to help it expand its offering for European enterprises in the life sciences industry, particularly around clinical trials and drug development.

IBM observes gap in its portfolio, buys Databand.ai

IBM has acquired Israeli data observability specialist Databand.ai to beef up its IT operations performance management portfolio alongside Instana APM and IBM Watson Studio. Since CEO Arvind Krishna took over in April 2020, IBM has been pursuing a strategy of making small acquisitions — over 25 of them so far — to fill gaps in its offerings.

Ensono adds AndPlus to portfolio

Managed solutions provider Ensono has bought AndPlus, a data engineering firm, continuing a run of acquisitions of small cloud consulting companies: In January, it snapped up ExperSolve, which specializes in moving and modernizing mainframe applications, and last year bought Amido. Ensono is owned by KKR, the owner of BMC Software.

IFS adds Ultimo to its EAM offering

IFS has expanded the enterprise asset management (EAM) capabilities of its ERP platform with the acquisition of Dutch software vendor Ultimo. IFS will continue to offer Ultimo’s software as a stand-alone solution.

ParkourSC adds IoT to SCM

ParkourSC, a Silicon Valley supply chain software company backed by Intel Capital, has bought IoT networking company Qopper, which was founded by ParkourSC CTO Alok Bhanot.

Zendesk goes private at knock-down price

CRM vendor Zendesk has agreed to be acquired by investment firms Hellman & Friedman and Permira. The two investors will pay around $10.2 billion to take Zendesk private, they announced on June 24. It’s a bargain for Permira and H&F, which also own stakes in cloud customer contact center vendor Genesys. In February, as part of a consortium of bidders, they offered $17 billion for Zendesk, which turned them down saying the offer undervalued the company. At around that time, Zendesk abandoned plans to buy Momentive Global (formerly Survey Monkey) for around $4 billion.

IBM to buy Randori

IBM has bought Randori, a specialist in attack surface management and offensive cybersecurity. It’s Big Blue’s fourth acquisition this year, after buying cloud consultants Neudesic and Sentaca in February, and environmental performance management company Envizi in January.

ServiceNow to buy Hitch Works

ServiceNow has agreed to buy skills mapping company Hitch Works, with the goal of helping its customers fill talent gaps through staff training.

ICF cements links with government health agencies

Digital transformation consulting company ICF is adding to the services it offers US government clients with the acquisition of SemanticBits, a health services software provider. Late last year it also bought health analytics vendor Enterprise Science and Computing (ESAC) and service provider Creative Systems and Consulting, both of which serve US federal agencies.

Epicor adds EDI to its ERP platform with Data Interchange buy

Epicor continues to expand its ERP platform capabilities through acquisition. On June 7, it bought UK-based Data Interchange, the operator of a global EDI network and developer of software for order processing and EDI mapping.

ScanMarket joins Unit4

SaaS ERP vendor Unit4 has bought source-to-contract cloud software vendor ScanMarket to beef up its source-to-pay offering to midmarket service industry customers.

McKinsey buys data architecture and engineering company

McKinsey doesn’t just advise on mergers and acquisitions, it also makes them. Case in point is its June 1 purchase of Caserta, the company that built its internal knowledge management platform. McKinsey expects the acquisition to benefit its data transformation work for its clients.

Instaclustr continues acquisitive streak for NetApps

NetApps closed its acquisition of Instaclustr on May 24. The service provider supporting open-source database, pipeline, and workflow applications in the cloud will join the Spot by NetApp portfolio, the collection of SaaS tools built around the cloud management and cost optimization company NetApp bought earlier in 2022.

Zoom zooms into AI chatbot market

With the video conferencing software market becoming saturated, Zoom has turned to a new customer base: bots! It has acquired Solvvy, a customer service automation specialist. Solvvy develops AI-powered chatbots that Zoom plans to deploy as part of its Zoom Contact Center offering for enterprises.

Oracle acquires HR tools to expand NetSuite

Oracle has acquired workforce management software vendor Adi Insights. It plans to roll the company’s overtime management, demand forecasting and shift scheduling into SuitePeople, part of its mid-market SaaS ERP NetSuite.

Panasonic plans IPO of recent acquisition Blue Yonder

Barely a year after buying Blue Yonder, a vendor of supply-chain management SaaS, Panasonic is looking to sell it again as it pursues a new strategic direction. Panasonic said in mid-May it will combine Blue Yonder with its Gemba Process Innovation activities, and seek a stock exchange listing for the new entity. It has not set a timetable for the sale.

Augury adds process intelligence to machine health offering

Augury, an industrial IoT vendor specializing in monitoring machine health, has paid over $100 million for process intelligence vendor Seebo. Augury plans to combine the two companies’ AI-based tools to help manufacturing companies balance quality and throughput with energy consumption, emissions, and waste.

SAP service providers join forces

Codestone Group has bought Clarivos. The two provide services around SAP’s ERP, analytics, and enterprise performance management (EPM) tools.

Perforce Software buys Puppet

Perforce Software, a privately held provider of software development tools, has agreed to buy the infrastructure automation software platform Puppet. Perforce already owns development tools such as Helix and the testing tools, including Perfecto and BlazeMeter.

Infosys buys oddity for digital marketing capabilities

The appetite of Indian IT service companies for European acquisitions is still unsated. Infosys has bought oddity, a German provider of digital marketing services that also has offices in Taipei and Shanghai. Infosys will fold oddity into Wongdoody, the US consumer insights agency it bought in 2018.

Microsoft buys Minit to optimize process automation

Microsoft has bought Minit, a developer of process mining software, to help its customers optimize business processes across the enterprise, on and off Microsoft Power Platform. The acquisition will help it extract process data from enterprise systems such as Oracle, SAP, ServiceNow, and Salesforce to identify process bottlenecks that can be optimized or automated.

NTT Data adds Vectorform to service portfolio

Global IT services giant NTT Data has bought another sliver of market share and added some new capabilities with its acquisition of Vectorform, an 80-person digital transformation consultancy based in Detroit. With Vectorform, NTT Data is looking to grow its customer experience and product development services across industries.

Celonis buys Process Analytics Factory

Process mining giant Celonis has snapped up Process Analytics Factory, a small German company specializing in process optimization on Microsoft’s platforms. Celonis started out helping enterprises optimize SAP workloads, and now its acquisition of the developer of PAFnow will help it broaden its access to the Power BI and Power Platform markets.

Equinix buys West African data center company for $320 million

Global data center operator Equinix expanded its capability and connectivity in West Africa in early April with the $320 million acquisition of MainOne, which offers services in Ghana, Nigeria, and Côte d’Ivoire. MainOne has just opened its fourth data center, in Lagos.

Salesforce absorbs Phennecs data management tool

Phennecs, developer of a privacy, compliance and data management tool for the Salesforce platform, is now part of Salesforce. The acquisition closed in April.

SS&C buys Blue Prism

Robotic process automation vendor Blue Prism is now part of SS&C Technology Holdings, a private equity and hedge fund that also owns a stack of niche finance and healthcare software vendors. For now, SS&C plans no changes in Blue Prism’s business, other than tacking SS&C on the name.

SAP closes deal to buy most of Taulia

Working capital management service provider Taulia is now majority-owned by SAP. Investor JP Morgan will retain a stake in the company, which will operate independently within the SAP group.

Nvidia buys block storage software developer Excelero

With $40 billion in spare cash to spend after its bid for chip designer Arm fell through, Nvidia is turning to smaller acquisitions to build its capabilities. In early March, it announced its second of 2022, Excelero, which develops software for securing and accelerating arrays of flash storage for use in enterprise high-performance computing.

NetApp buys Fylamynt for cloud ops automation

NetApp added some new functionality to its portfolio of cloud management tools in late February with the acquisition of Fylamynt, a young low-code cloud ops automation company. Its aim is to help customers automate the deployment of Spot by NetApp services.

Vendr buys SaaS platform Blissfully to simplify buying SaaS

SaaS vendor management platform Vendr is buying SaaS management platform vendor Blissfully. Vendr aims to offer finance and procurement teams savings on the purchase of SaaS services, while Blissfully helps enterprises identify what software they own and where they can save money.

Test automation: Tricentis buys Testim

Software test automation vendor Tricentis bought Testim, the developer of an AI-based SaaS test automation platform, to expand its continuous testing solutions. Tricentis hopes Testim’s platform will make it easier for customers to create tests that scale and change with their software.

Phenom pairs with Tandemploy on talent experience management

HR technology company Phenom has snapped up another talent experience management company. This time it’s the German Tandemploy, which Phenom hopes will help it better recommend pairings among peers, mentors, project leaders, and subject matter experts.

Atlassian buys Percept.ai

Atlassian has acquired chatbot developer Percept AI and plans to add its virtual agent technology to its Jira Service Management IT support tool. The idea is to automate the gathering of necessary context before passing it to human operators to help resolve cases faster. It’s Atlassian’s sixth ITSM acquisition in four years.

Microsoft to buy Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion

Microsoft has agreed to buy games developer Activision Blizzard, it said on Jan. 18 this year. The price tag, a whopping $68.7 billion, dwarfs even the $19.7 billion Microsoft paid for Nuance Communications last year, or the $26.2 billion it paid for LinkedIn in 2018.

Activision Blizzard’s apps are not typically authorized on enterprise networks, but there’s a chance its technology for creating and animating virtual worlds could make it into the workplace. Microsoft said the acquisition will give it the building blocks for the metaverse — a term for a virtual reality space where people interact for purposes of work or entertainment.

If so, that could make the virtual office a more pleasant sight than the blurred backgrounds and disembodied heads we see in Teams today — and prompt a wave of hardware refreshes to support the additional graphics workload.

Lansweeper acquires UMAknow

IT asset management platform Lansweeper has acquired UMAknow, the developer of Cloudockit. As Lansweeper scans on-premises computing environments, Cloudockit compiles architecture diagrams, and documents users’ assets in the cloud.

Precisely buys PlaceIQ

Data integrity specialist Precisely kicked off 2022 by buying PlaceIQ, a provider of location-based consumer data. It’s Precisely’s fifth acquisition since itself changing ownership last March. Other purchases include weather data provider Anchor Point and MDM software vendor Winshuttle.

Aptean jets into Austrian ERP market

Continuing along its flight path of acquiring small regional or industry-specific ERP vendors, Aptean has bought Austrian software vendor JET ERP, its fourth recent acquisition in the country.

Indian IT services companies acquire near-shoring operations in Europe

Indian IT services provider Tech Mahindra is expanding its offering to insurance, reinsurance, and financial firms with the acquisition of Com Tec Co IT, a custom software developer with 700 staff in Latvia and Belarus skilled in modern technologies, including AI, ML, and devsecops, for €310 million, while another Indian company, HCL Technologies, has acquired Starschema, a Hungarian data- and software-engineering service provider with offices in Budapest and Arlington, Va.

Sage swallows Brightpearl

Midmarket ERP vendor Sage closed its acquisition of Brightpearl on Jan. 18 this year. It plans to integrate Brightpearl’s e-commerce management software with its Intacct cloud-based financial applications.

Nvidia buys Bright Computing

With its giant bid for microprocessor designer ARM now abandoned, Nvidia is turning to smaller deals to bolster its capabilities. In early January, it bought Bright Computing, a developer of software for managing the high-performance computing clusters that Nvidia’s chips are used in when they’re not mining cryptocurrencies or rendering games.

Oracle buys part of Verenia’s CPQ business

Oracle has acquired Verenia’s NetSuite-based configure-price-quote business in order to add native CPQ functionality to NetSuite. Verenia retains its non-NetSuite product lines.

Mergers and Acquisitions, Technology Industry

The benefits of analyzing vast amounts of data, long-term or in real-time, has captured the attention of businesses of all sizes. Big data analytics has moved beyond the rarified domain of government and university research environments equipped with supercomputers to include businesses of all kinds that are using modern high performance computing (HPC) solutions to get their analytics jobs done. Its big data meets HPC ― otherwise known as high performance data analytics. 

Bigger, Faster, More Compute-intensive Data Analytics

Big data analytics has relied on HPC infrastructure for many years to handle data mining processes. Today, parallel processing solutions handle massive amounts of data and run powerful analytics software that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for highly demanding jobs.

A report by Intersect360 Research found that “Traditionally, most HPC applications have been deterministic; given a set of inputs, the computer program performs calculations to determine an answer. Machine learning represents another type of applications that is experiential; the application makes predictions about new or current data based on patterns seen in the past.”

This shift to AI, ML, large data sets, and more compute-intensive analytical calculations has contributed to the growth of the global high performance data analytics market, which was valued at $48.28 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow to $187.57 billion in 2026, according to research by Mordor Intelligence. “Analytics and AI require immensely powerful processes across compute, networking and storage,” the report explained. “As a result, more companies are increasingly using HPC solutions for AI-enabled innovation and productivity.”

Benefits and ROI

Millions of businesses need to deploy advanced analytics at the speed of events. A subset of these organizations will require high performance data analytics solutions. Those HPC solutions and architectures will benefit from the integration of diverse datasets from on-premise to edge to cloud. The use of new sources of data from the Internet of Things to empower customer interactions and other departments will provide a further competitive advantage to many businesses. Simplified analytics platforms that are user-friendly resources open to every employee, customer, and partner will change the responsibilities and roles of countless professions.

How does a business calculate the return on investment (ROI) of high performance data analytics? It varies with different use cases.

For analytics used to help increase operational efficiency, key performance indicators (KPIs) contributing to ROI may include downtime, cost savings, time-to-market, and production volume. For sales and marketing, KPIs may include sales volume, average deal size, revenue by campaign, and churn rate. For analytics used to detect fraud, KPIs may include number of fraud attempts, chargebacks, and order approval rates. In a healthcare environment, analytics used to improve patient outcomes might include key performance indicators that track cost of care, emergency room wait times, hospital readmissions, and billing errors.

Customer Success Stories

Combining data analytics with HPC:

A technology firm applies AI, machine learning, and data analytics to client drug diversion data from acute, specialty, and long-term care facilities and delivers insights within five minutes of receiving new data while maintaining a HPC environment with 99.99% uptime to comply with service level agreements (SLAs).A research university was able to tap into 2 petabytes of data across two HPC clusters with 13,080 cores to create a mathematical model to predict behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic.A technology services provider is able to inspect 124 moving railcars ― a 120% reduction in inspection time ― and transmit results in eight minutes, based on processing and analyzing 1.31 terabytes of data per day.A race car designer is able to process and analyze 100,000 data points per second per car ― one billion in a two-hour race ― that are used by digital twins running hundreds of different race scenarios to inform design modifications and racing strategy.  Scientists at a university research center are able to utilize hundreds of terabytes of data, processed at I/O speeds of 200 Gbps, to conduct cosmological research into the origins of the universe.

Data Scientists are Part of the Equation

High performance data analytics is gaining stature as more and more data is being collected.  Beyond the data and HPC systems, it takes expertise to recognize and champion the value of this data. According to Datamation, “The rise of chief data officers and chief analytics officers is the clearest indication that analytics has moved from the backroom to the boardroom, and more and more often it’s data experts that are setting strategy.” 

No wonder skilled data analysts continue to be among the most in-demand professionals in the world. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the field will be among the fastest-growing occupations for the next decade, with 11.5 million new jobs by 2026. 

For more information read “Unleash data-driven insights and opportunities with analytics: How organizations are unlocking the value of their data capital from edge to core to cloud” from Dell Technologies. 

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Data Management

To create a more efficient and streamlined enterprise, businesses often find themselves tempted to bring in brand new systems that promise major improvements over the status quo. This can be a viable strategy in some cases – and it will impress stakeholders that prefer to shake things up. But it comes at a cost. Swapping out the old for the new will require heavy doses of training to get everyone up to speed, and that’s just for starters.

There’s another option – optimize what you currently have. In other words, your current systems may not deliver the best possible experience for your users, but you can change that.

Before deciding whether to acquire entire new systems or software, businesses should take full stock of existing systems and processes. The goal: to effectively understand where efficiencies can be created by just re-tooling what you already have.

This blog will examine how enterprises can take stock of their systems, and offer best practices for IT teams with small budgets looking to re-tool. We’ll also provide examples of rejigging a system to improve performance.

The Importance of Self-Analysis

As noted earlier, the first step involves taking a full, 360-degree view of internal systems to determine hurdles and how best to overcome them. Getting a download on the overall performance and status of systems can paint the picture of where processes are bogging down, and the complex reasons behind bottlenecks that create inefficiency.

This also includes asking questions such as: Is this technology being under- or over-utilized? Is it dormant or active? Is it still commissioned? Is it scheduled to be decommissioned? How much space is it taking up? These questions will help inform next steps: how to either move on, or re-tool for improved efficiency.

After conducting a full assessment of internal systems, teams must talk to their front-line workers and business users about what’s working and what’s not. It’s important to remember that a lot of IT and business leaders aren’t familiar with the day-to-day operations, meaning they are removed from the daily snarls and issues that users face. This can create knowledge gaps where leadership thinks a system is performing fine. But the frontline end user is dealing with a whole host of issues, such as bugs or system failures. This is what makes communication so important. 

Creating a culture of communication between frontline workers and leadership is paramount, as the end users can act as a real-time insight pipeline. One way to achieve this culture is to host regular standup meetings with employees, led by people who are already experts in using the systems. This allows direct access to a subject matter expert who is well-versed in the technical details, and who can offer ideas that may not have been tested before.  

Re-tooling Underway

After the thorough analysis is complete, IT teams can get to work re-tooling their systems to work in a more efficient, streamlined manner. Any processes and systems that directly impact customers and revenue should be prioritized, as they’re often handling the most crucial datasets for a business.

After re-tooling, it’s crucial to test the current performance against the previous performance to establish benchmarks. While in development, there should always be a testing/beta phase where the old and new processes work concurrently; this ensures feedback around efficiency and what is accepted among users. Often, businesses will introduce a new system without testing it alongside an existing process. This creates a situation where there is no benchmark, and the business may run into the same challenges as they had before.

If the re-tooled process is customer-facing, then the same questions that are asked internally regarding performance should also be asked to the consumer. Feedback from customers is essential, as they could move to a competitor if they’re unhappy with the new process. 

Getting by on Small Budgets

Smaller businesses with tighter budgets are often more likely to undertake re-tooling. Larger organizations typically have more capital to spend on new software and other services, but the smaller organizations often must get work with what they have. 

One example: a customer that has decommissioned nodes and is looking to increase storage capacity. The company completed the assessment, realized their nodes are taking up physical space, and determined they need more storage. After the nodes have been decommissioned and the compute power removed, one way to re-tool and re-use that system is to employ a software-based storage solution. This way the company only pays for software licenses that run the storage solution off the decommissioned hosts.

As the current solution was constrained by space and only utilized as a short-term backup solution, the new storage solution helped store long-term backups to meet postponed backup compliance standards. This new idea also enhanced the company’s current solution by improving throughput and reducing network bandwidth for end users. Creative thinking and self-analysis like this can help companies of any size – particularly smaller ones with smaller budgets.

Taking an honest look at what you have and re-tooling systems is a surefire way for businesses to continue driving innovation without breaking the bank. As businesses push to transform their operations, the time is now to look within at your systems and find ways to drive efficiency by re-tooling.

Learn more about HPE PointNext Tech Care here.

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About Kyler Johnson

Kyler Johnson is a Master Technologist in HPE Pointnext, Global Remote Services. He has worked in technology for 10 years with a focus on innovation, automation, and consulting. Kyler strives to ensure his customers are highly satisfied for the present and future. When he is not focused on the customer, he enjoys reading, horseback riding, and gaming.

Enterprise, HPE, IT Leadership

What you need to know about IoT in enterprise and education  

 
In an era of data driven insights and automation, few technologies have the power to supercharge and empower decision makers like that of the Internet of Things (IoT).  

 
As the adoption of IoT devices is expected to reach 24.1 billion by 2030, forward-thinking organisations and higher education institutions are realising that IoT technologies are providing access to insights and making things possible now that were too expensive or difficult just a few years ago.  

 
Sustainability and smart energy management are emerging as important IoT use cases, offering organisations real-time power usage monitoring and predictive analytics to reduce energy spending.  

 
In the future, IoT will play a critical role in enabling organisations to fulfil their ESG goals and demonstrate compliance to movements such as B Corp and the Climate Pledge

The potential use cases for enterprise users  

 
Futhermore, the potential use cases for IoT goes well beyond the confines of sustainability. For instance, organisations can even go as far as monitoring the air quality of spaces, to support the health and wellbeing of building occupants. 

 
Decision makers and facility managers also have the ability to monitor environmental factors like CO2 levels, which are known to impair cognitive function.  

 
IoT devices also can be used more broadly to help leverage maximum value from assets, by optimising room occupancy and utilisation, or tracking the location and usage of high value assets.  

 
Together these tools can help reduce carbon emissions, optimise processes and asset maintenance, and enable organisations to better comply with sustainability regulations and meet long-term green and operational goals.  

 
It is these widespread use cases that are contributing to the growth of the IoT market as a whole, which analysts predict will increase from a value of $384.70 billion in 2021, with some estimates putting the expected  value as high as  $2,465.26 billion by 2029. But it’s not just the commercial sector that can reap the rewards of IoT.  

How IoT can help education providers  

 
While IoT adoption in the education industry is in its infancy, these distributed devices have the potential to provide detailed operational insights and automation capabilities the same way they already do in commercial environments.  

 
Once again, the most potent use case of IoT devices is in supporting sustainability initiatives, enabling institutions to cut energy costs, optimise resource usage for water and gas, and meet their green goals.  

 
It also enables them to enhance their operations through enhancing the occupancy of classrooms, and monitoring learning environments for comfort, health and safety concerns, influencing factors like light, VOC, CO2, and sound, to ensure that students are in an ideal position to learn.  

Green Custard’s role in the IoT market  

 
One of the providers paving the way for the ongoing IoT revolution is Green Custard, a UK-based cloud native professional services company providing bespoke IoT solutions to organisations across the commercial, educational, and public sectors.  

 
Green Custard is also an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Advanced Tier partner, and one of a small number who specialise solely in IoT deployment and management.  

 
Leveraging AWS, Green Custard help to deliver products and services across IoT, edge, embedded, infrastructure, data analytics, mobile, and web applications with the necessary best practices, to help decision makers bring their green visions to life.  

For more information click here to find out how Green Custard can help your organisation. 

Education Industry

ERP definition

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a system of integrated software applications that manages day-to-day business processes and operations across finance, human resources, procurement, distribution, supply chain, and other functions. ERP systems are critical applications for most organizations because they integrate all the processes necessary to run their business into a single system that also facilitates resource planning. ERP systems typically operate on an integrated software platform using common data definitions operating on a single database.

ERPs were originally designed for manufacturing companies but have since expanded to serve nearly every industry, each of which can have its own ERP peculiarities and offerings. For example, government ERP uses contract lifecycle management (CLM) rather than traditional purchasing and follows government accounting rules rather than GAAP.

Benefits of ERP

ERP systems improve enterprise operations in a number of ways. By integrating financial information in a single system, ERP systems unify an organization’s financial reporting. They also integrate order management, making order taking, manufacturing, inventory, accounting, and distribution a much simpler, less error-prone process. Most ERPs also include customer relationship management (CRM) tools to track customer interactions, thereby providing deeper insights about customer behavior and needs. They can also standardize and automate manufacturing and supporting processes, and unify procurement across an organization’s business units. ERP systems can also provide a standardized HR platform for time reporting, expense tracking, training, and skills matching, and greatly enhance an organization’s ability to file the necessary compliance reporting across finance, HR, and the supply chain.

Key features of ERP systems

The scale, scope, and functionality of ERP systems vary widely, but most ERP systems offer the following characteristics:

Enterprise-wide integration. Business processes are integrated end to end across departments and business units. For example, a new order automatically initiates a credit check, queries product availability, and updates the distribution schedule. Once the order is shipped, the invoice is sent.Real-time (or near real-time) operations. Because the processes in the example above occur within a few seconds of order receipt, problems are identified quickly, giving the seller more time to correct the situation.A common database. A common database enables data to be defined once for the enterprise with every department using the same definition. Some ERP systems split the physical database to improve performance.Consistent look and feel. ERP systems provide a consistent user interface, thereby reducing training costs. When other software is acquired by an ERP vendor, common look and feel is sometimes abandoned in favor of speed to market. As new releases enter the market, most ERP vendors restore the consistent user interface.

Types of ERP solutions

ERP systems are categorized in tiers based on the size and complexity of enterprises served:

Tier I ERPs support large global enterprises, handling all internationalization issues, including currency, language, alphabet, postal code, accounting rules, etc. Tier I vendors include Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, and Infor.Tier I Government ERPs support large, mostly federal, government agencies. Oracle, SAP, and CompuServe PRISM are considered Tier I with Infor and CGI Momentum close behind.Tier II ERPs support large enterprises that may operate in multiple countries but lack global reach. Tier II customers can be standalone entities or business units of large global enterprises. Depending on how vendors are categorized there are 25 to 45 vendors in this tier.Tier II Government ERPs focus on state and local governments with some federal installations. Tyler Technologies and UNIT4 fall in this category.Tier III ERPs support midtier enterprises, handling a handful of languages and currencies but only a single alphabet. Depending on how ERPs are categorized, there are 75 to 100 Tier III ERP solutions.Tier IV ERPs are designed for small enterprises and often focus on accounting.

ERP vendors

The top ERP vendors today include:

OracleSAPMicrosoftWorkdaySageInforEpicorServiceNowQADSalesforce

Selecting an ERP solution

Choosing an ERP system is among the most challenging decisions IT leaders face. In addition to the above tier criteria, there is a wide range of features and capabilities to consider. With any industry, it is important to pick an ERP vendor with industry experience. Educating a vendor about the nuances of a new industry is very time consuming.

To help you get a sense of the kinds of decisions that go into choosing an ERP system, check out “The best ERP systems: 10 enterprise resource planning tools compared,” with evaluations and user reviews of Acumatica Cloud ERP, Deltek ERP, Epicor ERP, Infor ERP, Microsoft Dynamics ERP, NetSuite ERP, Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne ERP,  Oracle Peoplesoft Financial Management and SAP ERP Solutions.

ERP implementation

Most successful ERP implementations are led by an executive sponsor who sponsors the business case, gets approval to proceed, monitors progress, chairs the steering committee, removes roadblocks, and captures the benefits. The CIO works closely with the executive sponsor to ensure adequate attention is paid to integration with existing systems, data migration, and infrastructure upgrades. The CIO also advises the executive sponsor on challenges and helps the executive sponsor select a firm specializing in ERP implementations.

The executive sponsor should also be advised by an organizational change management executive, as ERP implementations result in new business processes, roles, user interfaces, and job responsibilities. Reporting to the program’s executive team should be a business project manager and an IT project manager. If the enterprise has engaged an ERP integration firm, its project managers should be part of the core program management team.

Most ERP practitioners structure their ERP implementation as follows:

Gain approval: The executive sponsor oversees the creation of any documentation required for approval. This document, usually called a business case, typically includes a description of the program’s objectives and scope, implementation costs and schedule, development and operational risks, and projected benefits. The executive sponsor then presents the business case to the appropriate executives for formal approval. Plan the program: The timeline is now refined into a work plan, which should include finalizing team members, selecting any external partners (implementation specialists, organizational change management specialists, technical specialists), finalizing contracts, planning infrastructure upgrades, and documenting tasks, dependencies, resources, and timing with as much specificity as possible. Configure software: This largest, most difficult phase includes analyzing gaps in current business processes and supporting applications, configuring parameters in the ERP software to reflect new business processes, completing any necessary customization, migrating data using standardized data definitions, performing system tests, and providing all functional and technical documentation. Deploy the system: Prior to the final cutover, multiple activities have to be completed, including training of staff on the system, planning support to answer questions and resolve problems after the ERP is operational, testing the system, making the “Go live” decision in conjunction with the executive sponsor. Stabilize the system: Following deployment, most organizations experience a dip in business performance as staff learn new roles, tools, business processes, and metrics. In addition, poorly cleansed data and infrastructure bottlenecks will cause disruption. All impose a workload bubble on the ERP deployment and support team.

Hidden costs of ERP

Four factors are commonly underestimated during project planning:

Business process change. Once teams see the results of their improvements, most feel empowered and seek additional improvements. Success breeds success often consuming more time than originally budgeted.Organizational change management. Change creates uncertainty at all organization levels. With many executives unfamiliar with the nuances of organization change management, the effort is easily underestimated.Data migration. Enterprises often have overlapping databases and weak editing rules. The tighter editing required with an ERP system increases data migration time. This required time is easy to underestimate, particularly if all data sources cannot be identified.Custom code. Customization increases implementation cost significantly and should be avoided. It also voids the warranty, and problems reported to the vendor must be reproduced on unmodified software. It also makes upgrades difficult. Finally, most enterprises underestimate the cost of customizing their systems.

Why ERP projects fail

ERP projects fail for many of the same reasons that other projects fail, including ineffective executive sponsors, poorly defined program goals, weak project management, inadequate resources, and poor data cleanup. But there are several causes of failure that are closely tied to ERPs:

Inappropriate package selection. Many enterprises believe a Tier I ERP is by definition “best” for every enterprise. In reality, only very large, global enterprises will ever use more than a small percentage of their functionality. Enterprises that are not complex enough to justify Tier I may find implementation delayed by feature overload. Conversely, large global enterprises may find that Tier II or Tier III ERPs lack sufficient features for complex, global operations.Internal resistance. While any new program can generate resistance, this is more common with ERPs. Remote business units frequently view the standardization imposed by an ERP as an effort by headquarters to increase control over the field. Even with an active change management campaign, it is not uncommon to find people in the field slowing implementation as much as possible. Even groups who support the ERP can become disenchanted if the implementation team provides poor support. Disenchanted supporters can become vicious critics when they feel they have been taken for granted and not offered appropriate support.

Cloud ERP

Over the past few years, ERP vendors have created new systems designed specifically for the cloud, while longtime ERP vendors have created cloud versions of their software. Cloud ERP There are a number of reasons to move to cloud ERP, which falls into two major types:

ERP as a service. With these ERPs, all customers operate on the same code base and have no access to the source code. Users can configure but not customize the code.ERP in an IaaS cloud. Enterprises that rely on custom code in their ERP cannot use ERP as a service. If they wish to operate in the cloud, the only option is to move to an IaaS provider, which shifts their servers to a different location.

For most enterprises, ERP as a service offers three advantages: The initial cost is lower, upgrades to new releases are easier, and reluctant executives cannot pressure the organization to write custom code for their organization. Still, migrating to a cloud ERP can be tricky and requires a somewhat different approach than implementing on on-premises solution. See “13 secrets of a successful cloud ERP migration.”

Enterprise Applications, ERP Systems

Cyber hygiene describes a set of practices, behaviors and tools designed to keep the entire IT environment healthy and at peak performance—and more importantly, it is a critical line of defense. Your cyber hygiene tools, as with all other IT tools, should fit the purpose for which they’re intended, but ideally should deliver the scale, speed, and simplicity you need to keep your IT environment clean.

What works best is dependent on the organization. A Fortune 100 company will have a much bigger IT group than a firm with 1,000 employees, hence the emphasis on scalability. Conversely, a smaller company with a lean IT team would prioritize simplicity.

It’s also important to classify your systems. Which ones are business critical? And which ones are external versus internal facing? External facing systems will be subject to greater scrutiny.

In many cases, budget or habit will prevent you from updating certain tools. If you’re stuck with a tool you can’t get rid of, you need to understand how your ideal workflow can be supported. Any platform or tool can be evaluated against the scale, speed and simplicity criteria.

An anecdote about scale, speed and complexity

Imagine a large telecom company with millions of customers and a presence in nearly every business and consumer-facing digital service imaginable. If your organization is offering an IT tool or platform to customers like that, no question you’d love to get your foot in the door.

But look at it from the perspective of the telecom company. No tool they’ve ever purchased can handle the scale of their business. They’re always having to apply their existing tools to a subset of a subset of a subset of their environment. 

Any tool can look great when it’s dealing with 200 systems. But when you get to the enterprise size, those three pillars are even more important. The tool must work at the scale, speed, and simplicity that meets your needs.

The danger of complacency

With all the thought leadership put into IT operations and security best practices, why is it that many organizations are content with having only 75% visibility into their endpoint environment? Or 75% of endpoints under management? 

It’s because they’ve accepted failure as built into the tools and processes they’ve used over the years. If an organization wants to stick with the tools it has, it must:

Realize their flaws and limitationsMeasure them on the scale, speed and simplicity criteriaDetermine the headcount required to do things properly

Organizations cannot remain attached to the way they’ve always done things. Technology changes too fast. The cliché of “future proof” is misleading. There’s no future proof. There’s only future adaptable.

Old data lies

To stay with the three criteria of strong cyber hygiene—scale, speed and simplicity—nothing is more critical than the currency of your data. Any software or practice that supports making decisions on old data should be suspect. 

Analytics help IT and security teams make better decisions. When they don’t, the reason is usually a lack of quality data. And the quality issue is often around data freshness. In IT, old data is almost never accurate. So decisions based on it are very likely to be wrong. Regardless of the data set, whether it’s about patching, compliance, device configuration, vulnerabilities or threats, old data is unreliable.

The old data problem is compounded by the number of systems a typical large organization relies on today. Many tools we still use were made for a decades-old IT environment that no longer exists. Nevertheless, today tools are available to give us real-time data for IT analytics.

IT hygiene and network data capacity

Whether you’re a 1,000-endpoint or 100,000-endpoint organization, streaming huge quantities of real-time data will require network bandwidth to carry it. You may not have the infrastructure to handle real-time data from every system you’re operating. So, focus on the basics. 

That means you need to understand and identify the core business services and applications that are most in need of fresh data. Those are the services that keep a business running. With that data, you can see what your IT operations and security posture look like for those systems. Prioritize. Use what you have wisely.

To simplify gathering the right data, streamline workflows

Once you’ve identified your core services, getting back to basics means streamlining workflows. Most organizations are in the mindset of “my tools dictate my workflow.” And that’s backward.

You want a high-performance network that has low vulnerability and strong threat response.  You want tools that can service your core systems, do efficient patching, perform antivirus protection and manage recovery should there be a breach. That’s what your tooling should support. Your workflows should help you weed out the tools that are not a good operational fit for your business.

Looking ahead

It’s clear the “new normal” will consist of remote, on-premises, and hybrid workforces. IT teams now have the experience to determine how to update and align processes and infrastructure without additional disruption.

Part of this evaluation process will center on the evaluation and procurement of tools that provide the scale, speed and simplicity necessary to manage operations in a hyper converged world while:

Maintaining superior IT hygiene as a foundational best practiceAssessing risk posture to inform technology and operational decisions Strengthening cybersecurity programs without impeding worker productivity

Dive deeper into cyber hygiene with this eBook.

Analytics