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Published: January 3rd, 2020

What are some information technologies that a value-focused CIO should keep talking about even though they’re not generating much buzz? In search of the latest and greatest technology developments or the latest over-valued technology of a pre-IPO unicorn, media pundits move on to new topics all too quickly.

Here are a few proven information technologies that have delivered value and will continue to deliver value. These technologies are no longer the recipients of breathless excitement in media coverage. As a pragmatic CIO, you can become a hero by identifying opportunities to drive more value from these technologies while forcing others to stifle their yawns.

Business processes

Business processes are fickle and finicky. As an organization grows, restructures or makes acquisitions, processes that were once sleek and efficient become encrusted with excess complexity, take too long and start to cause avoidable rework. As new production or distribution technologies emerge and information technologies mature, new opportunities for business process improvement become worthwhile. As a result, business process improvement possibilities are almost endless even though talking about them often elicits a bored yawn.

Where a CIO encourages initiatives in business process management (BPM) with its supporting software packages, the business value for improved customer service and reduced operating cost will be significant.

Data management

The advent of Big Data and data analytics to make sense of all that data has exposed horrible data quality problems in the data that many organizations collect. Talking about data management is often seen as boring because there’s no single, irrefutable, big win. However, hundreds or even thousands of small data quality wins can deliver a big improvement.
Where a CIO promotes data management initiatives to improve data stewardship, adopt a single view of data, and move toward a data-driven decision-making process, the business value for avoiding losing capital investments and reducing the capital cost of winning investments will be significant.

SCADA/IIOT

Supervisor Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), in many forms, has been used for so long to control major industrial facilities including oil refineries, petrochemical plants, electrical power generation stations and all kinds of assembly lines that it’s become boring.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) is a major advance over relatively expensive SCADA. IIOT relies on dramatically cheaper components including sensors, network bandwidth, storage and computing resources. As a result, IIOT is feasible in many smaller facilities, where SCADA wasn’t, and offers a huge increase in data points for larger facilities.

Where a CIO urges broader adoption of IIOT to improve manufacturing quality, reduce expensive unscheduled outages and improve safety, the business value to customer satisfaction through on-time delivery of quality products will be significant.

ERP software

Most organizations have now implemented Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to the point that talking about ERP is seen as boring. Tragically, many organizations are using only a small fraction of the ERP software capabilities they’re paying for.

Where a CIO recommends broader adoption of the ERP software to improve business processes, data integration and data quality, the business value to accelerating business growth through better decision-making based on improved collaboration and better data will be significant. This value can be achieved without spending a dime more on software licensing.

Simulation

Simulation is a technology that has been applied to many situations for many years. Digital twins are elaborate simulations of complex facilities that are a crucial tool for optimizing operation, planning upgrades and major maintenance. The value of digital twins is reduced elapsed time and therefore cost of plant turnarounds.

Aircraft and nuclear power station operation training are perhaps the most widely known examples of simulations. In business, simulations can upgrade employee training courses from boring to engaging by adding a significant animation or more video components. Whenever simulations include real-time feedback, as found in many video games including the Jetfighter simulation series, the learning value increases.

Where a CIO endorses broader adoption of simulation applications to improve the performance of facilities and employees, the business value to safety. cost and customer service will be significant.

DFM

Design for manufacturability (DFM) is about designing products so that they are easier and often cheaper to manufacture. DFM involves analyzing factors including labouring hours, assembly skills, material types and weight, and machining tolerances. Because the DFM concept has been in use for decades, it’s seen as a boring practice that offers no further benefits.

However, with the advent of advanced design software, 3D printing and new materials such as advanced plastics and composites, DFM can continue to add value. When a CIO presses for broader adoption of DFM with its supporting software, the result is improved manufacturing processes with significant cost benefits that don’t compromise quality.

What boring or passé ideas would you pursue to enhance the value of information technology for your organization? Let us know in the comments below.