Go digital for lasting improvements

Jill Van Hoesen

Jill Van Hoesen

As we move into 2017 the lines between the varying sectors of industries and businesses will become even more blurred and each and every company or organization will need to begin to become just a little more of a technology company.
You will hear about this craze throughout 2017, as the omnipresent quest to “go digital” will continue. Your digital transformation will equate into numerous opportunities for empowering your employees and enhancing customer engagement through new services and product offerings. Your keys to success will be different for each of you but you can begin to reconcile your existing technologies with the new digital offerings by taking the advice of Bill Briggs, chief technology officer, for Deloitte Consulting LLP, “Think big, start small, fail fast and keep moving”.
As you begin your digital innovation and investment strategy you must understand the impact the latest emerging technology trends will have on your business. This understanding needs to be translated into a strategic plan inclusive of these new emerging technologies and the understanding of how these latest kinds of changes will drive your business model and market. Each of you will approach this with your own unique set of perspectives, goals, opportunities and challenges. You will find as the boundaries blur commonality will emerge that can provide you some powerful opportunities to share ideas and strategies among entities which you may have been previously disconnected. Your technical and business leaders need to get on the same page to jumpstart your organization’s digital transformation and the magnitude of opportunities a digital transformation can mean. The harder part will be translating this “digital transformation” into viable opportunities for customer engagement, employee empowerment and new products and services that will enhance your bottom line.
Your tech leaders will embrace this as it will give them dispensation in their roles of strategist and change catalyst. You should look to your tech leaders to first evaluate the possibility of extracting more value from your present legacy systems. This could mean a full upgrade to a new platform or possibly only replacing outdated components with some newer tools driven by the latest technology. I am sure you have a sufficient investment in your core system(s) so core modernization needs to be done at a granular level taking into account your present budget, architecture, security, scalability and life cycle of the system. If you plan carefully and keep these changes manageable it will go a long way in helping your business meet its needs today while creating a roadmap for the future.
You and your organization are not alone in this digital transformation struggle. To some degree, most organizations are facing many of the same digital challenges. Technical debt is a real challenge in many organizations, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that legacy systems have no life left in them, maintaining core operations and keeping the lights on still matter greatly for most of us. A critical part of any effort to digitally modernize your business is to shore up your core information technology foundation. If your core is solid and running well you will have the foundation to begin to build your digital transformation on. Strategy is the key here, as digital transformation is as much about your tactics as your mind-set. If your business is in order you can begin to evaluate the pieces of digital transformation like integration, design and architecture. You will find the transition will be easiest on all when it can be focused on creating a specific product, service or customer experience. This provides the buy in you need from your stakeholders and the effort becomes bound to a precise not abstract goal. This should be your first step in your much broader effort toward digitally transforming your enterprise.
In 2017 and beyond successful companies will most likely be those that can live up to the mandate of being a tech company. Analytics and digital are the new currency on which all competition is being waged. Your challenge is determining how your company will compete in this digital environment and this challenge is not a luxury and it is not an option. If you are not exploiting the latest digital technologies and analytics to drive new offerings and customer experiences don’t worry your competition will.

Jill Van Hoesen is chief information officer for Johnson Newspapers and a 25-year IT veteran. Contact her at jvanhoesen@wdt.net. Her column appears monthly in NNY Business.

August 2016: Business Tech Bytes

Health care IT advances across region

Jill Van Hoesen

Jill Van Hoesen

Health care IT is undoubtedly a north country industry that has seen scores of advances. This year, you have most likely found that health care providers have successfully transitioned from a primarily paper-based system to a technology-driven digital one.

Where consumer health care cost savings is questionable, better patient care, which allows patients to be more actively engaged in their own care and ultimately healthier, can be credited to these IT advances. [Read more…]

July 2016: Business Tech Bytes

Optimize your web user experience

Jill Van Hoesen

Jill Van Hoesen

It’s your website but you need to make Google happy or your search ranking will suffer. So what makes Google happy these days? Is it responsive or adaptive design? Are you familiar with either or are you still supporting two versions of your website, one for mobile users and one for desktop users? [Read more…]

June 2016: Business Tech Bytes

Coming soon: ‘Facebook at Work’

Jill Van Hoesen

Jill Van Hoesen

You have a Facebook page, your business has a page, so does the social club you belong to, but most importantly so do all your “friends.” With more than 1.59 billion users worldwide, Facebook seems to be here to stay and is permeating further and further into our everyday lives. What do you think about Facebook at work? Did you know that “Facebook at Work” is already in the works? [Read more…]

May 2016: Business Tech Bytes

Engage employees in cybersecurity

Jill Van Hoesen

Jill Van Hoesen

It’s back, even though it never really went away. Ransomware, IRS, email and telephone scams. Cyber threats like these are very real to your business and are seen in the headlines almost daily. Do you think it will be the work of outsiders, malicious hackers trying to pilfer your customer’s confidential information? The biggest threat to your customers and your business can come from within. Negligence and ignorance of your employees is always very easy prey for cyber criminals. [Read more…]

April 2016: Business Tech Bytes

Modern classrooms require good tech

Jill Van Hoesen

Jill Van Hoesen

You have heard it before: technology is everywhere. It is part of your everyday life and it affects most every facet of it. Technology is a valuable learning tool and with the ever-increasing presence in our lives today, how can it not become part of every student’s curriculum? [Read more…]

March 2016: Business Tech Bytes

The right tools to manage IT disruption

Jill Van Hoesen

Jill Van Hoesen

Is information technology management in your enterprise increasingly about coordinating a concoction of disparate systems? Do you have varying departments making purchasing and usage decisions independently? Has the consumerization of IT, with all the tools and solutions in the palm of your employee’s hand, invaded your enterprise?

I’m sure most of your employees are using some cloud or personal software to abet them with their job.

In the 2015 Harvey Nash and KPMG CIO survey, “Into an Age of Disruption,” a full range of information technology topics, from recruitment and business strategy to overall IT priorities were explored. Nine out of 10 survey respondents believe that digital disruption will impact their organizations within the next decade, and 61 percent said they think they’ll capitalize on this disruption better than their present and future competitors.

“The speed of technology is what’s driving IT today,” said Bob Miano, president and CEO of Harvey Nash USAPAC. “Disruption is the norm now, so it’s about how fast companies can innovate. Pressure to produce at an accelerated pace is felt across all vertical markets, and has direct ties to the talent war.”

So the quandary, how do you deliver stable consistent IT performance that will drive revenue while still containing or even cutting costs? To be successful in managing your IT solutions more effectively, Janco Associate’s CIO Concern Management Toolkit recommends three focus areas of consideration: people, infrastructure and technology.

People — Security rises directly to the top. From cyber attacks to phishing emails, your employees are your biggest security concern. It goes hand in hand with cloud computing, how many new applications are being used each and every day on your network that is not under complete control of your IT organization? If you think you know, look again. No matter your business, technology applications are constantly evolving and changing in this digital age.

Infrastructure — Gone are the days of everyone accessing the IBM mainframe in a single location with IT approved standardized hardware and software. As new technologies are being implemented, traditional functions are being eliminated, making way for even further automation. This automation brings with it mountains of data which needs to be analyzed quickly and efficiently so that the decision making process within your enterprise can be improved. Records management, version control, retention and destruction are just a few of the traditional areas that still need to be under internal management and control.

Technology — BYOD, mobile applications, cloud storage. These represent non vented IT platforms that your employees are using in order to improve theirs and your bottom line. Your employees will use whatever applications are in the palm of their hands to get these results. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, just to name a few, are the wave of the future and need to be managed more efficiently in most every enterprise today. This management needs to span from advertising to productivity losses. Does your business have a Facebook page? Check out Facebook Business Manager; that will assist with advertising. As for time spent on Facebook and other social media sites during work time? I’m soliciting your comments, suggestions, policies and procedures for an upcoming column.

To be sure, clouds, mobility, social media and BYOD has redistributed power within most very aspect of most every business. In the light of the every growing list of cyber-attacks, now more than ever there is a need to focus on designing an enterprise security and privacy strategic roadmap. These policies and procedures need to be based on governance models such as PCI, HIPAA or SOX depending on the nature of your business. Your end goal is for your people, infrastructure and technology to evolve beyond the point of being a motley and disjointed collection of software solutions, tools, and technologies. You need to attain the mindset and approach that will harness the full power that digital technology has to offer. It will be a challenging balancing act, but many IT teams and technology leaders have the innate aptitude to propel an organization through this complex “age of disruption.”

Jill Van Hoesen is chief information officer for Johnson Newspapers and a 25-year IT veteran. Contact her at jvanhoesen@wdt.net. Her column appears monthly in NNY Business.

February 2016: Business Tech Bytes

Long wait for Office Mobile was worth it

VanHoesenW

Jill Van Hoesen

It’s here, it’s free and this has certainly been a long time coming.

Microsoft Office Mobile is finally now available for any mobile device you may own. Originally released in 1996, as Pocket Office for Windows CE, the first mobile version of Microsoft Office came complete with Pocket Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access. Eleven years and many updates later Redmond rebranded Pocket Office to Windows Mobile and, in June 2007, released Office Mobile to coincide with its release of the Windows Mobile 5 operating system. This version still boasted the core Microsoft Office Mobile apps of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, while adding OneNote in Office Mobile 2007. [Read more…]

January 2016: Business Tech Bytes

‘Big data’ will drive transformational change

VanHoesenWAs 2015 trends appear in 2016 goals, fostering personalized customer engagement will continue to rise to the top. Tim Crawford, CIO and strategic advisor for AVOA, believes the Internet of Things, or IoT as its known, has changed the age-old saying “the customer is always right” to “customers care about their individual needs, not those of others.” [Read more…]

December 2015: Business Tech Bytes

Maintain digital security this season

Jill Van Hoesen

Jill Van Hoesen

The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year. The most wonderful time of the year for cyber criminals, that is. ThreatMetrix, a digital identity company, recently released a report predicting a 25 percent increase in cyber attacks during the 2015 holiday season alone. Holiday scams of seasons past have been limited to telephone and direct mail, but cyber criminals will be in overdrive this holiday season trying to scam you and yours. [Read more…]