5 Questions to Ask About Business Continuity

Business Continuity is the idea that your organizations’ should be able to continue operations even after potential and/or direct threats. These threats can be internal and/or external. Some examples of internal threats include theft, sabotage, espionage, and IT-outage. Some examples of external threats include weather-related, vendor-dependent, health crisis, supply chain disruptions, and cybersecurity. The most important thing for any organization is its employees and its customers. Thus, organizations should be able to be well-equipped to make timely decisions with optimized business processes and relevant data that helps its employees and its customers.

In order to continue operations in difficult circumstances, organizations need to create a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) which addresses how people, processes, products, services, and technologies can be applied efficiently and effectively for the entire organization. The BCP should be created with support from all stakeholders especially employees who are in the frontlines dealing directly with customers and/or their work directly affects customers. The BCP should be a holistic document whose purpose is not only to identify risks, critical processes, and critical data but also to provide solutions to what should be done in case something happens. Most importantly, the BCP is an organization’s self-awareness document that should always be tested and updated to represent reality.

Depending upon your organization’s industry, size, culture, and technological capabilities, Business Continuity would be different from other organizations. However, Business Continuity would be similar for most organizations when it comes to payroll systems, financial systems, accounting systems, technology infrastructure systems and the ability for the employees to work remotely.  Now that we have a good understanding of what is Business Continuity, let’s keep the following questions whenever you are creating/analyzing, testing and implementing Business Continuity for your operations.
Today Tomorrow
Who is involved in creating the BCP? Who should be involved in creating the BCP?
What areas are critical for BCP? What areas should be critical for BCP?
Where does the data reside for BCP? Where should the data reside for BCP?
When is BCP tested and updated? When should BCP be tested and updated?
Why BCP is helping your organization? Why BCP should help your organization?

5 Questions to Ask About Business Intelligence (BI)

According to The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI)‘s The Rise of Analytic Applications: Build or Buy?, Business Intelligence (BI) is the process, technologies, and tools needed to turn data into information, information into knowledge, and knowledge into plans that drive profitable business actions. BI encompasses data warehousing, business analytics tools, and content/knowledge management. In other words, Business Intelligence is the right mix of business operations and technology implementation that provides data to make effective decisions. By no means, BI is an IT-only or a business-only project.

BI is about capturing the data, interpreting the data and using the data to improve the organization. This BI data can come from internal sources such as accounting, customer service, finance, human resources, information technology, marketing, operations, and sales departments. This BI data can also come from external sources such as customers, vendors, partners, and governments. When your organization collects data from internal and external sources then this is the first step in understanding what data is used across the organization. Due to the siloed nature of most organizations, you would quickly find out that certain types of data is redundant and captured multiple times by humans (which is prone to errors) and by systems (which is prone to duplication).

Let’s say that you now have a better understanding and appreciation of how various types of data flows in your organization and which departments/teams use which data. The next step is to figure out which data is used for regulatory, compliance, legal, decision-making and is just nice-to-have. From this, you can also figure out which data is used more than once or should be used at least once across the organization. This will give you a good sense of which data is really relevant for improving the organization.

With all the information that you have gained, you have to now figure out ‘who’ will have access to this information and ‘how’. To figure out ‘who’, this will be a discussion with various organizational departments, top organizational executives and frontline employees. To figure out ‘how’, this will be a discussion with the IT department if they have the budget to build and maintain a system that can capture data from various sources or if they have the budget to buy and maintain a system that can capture data from various sources to make ad-hoc or canned reports through a dashboard and what models (forecasting, predictive, prescriptive and optimization) can be used. At the end of the day, BI is about providing data to the people who need it the most to carry on and improve their tasks.

By now, you have a better understanding that standing up a BI system is a holistic endeavor that requires cooperation and collaboration from all parts of the organization and even beyond the organizational boundaries. To keep the idea of organizational improvements at the front, always ask the following questions:

Today Tomorrow
Who is going to use the BI system?Who should use the BI system? 
What data is relevant to the BI system?What should be relevant to the BI system? 
Where does the data reside for the BI system?Where should the data reside for the BI system? 
When does the BI system update its data? realtime vs. scheduledWhen should the BI system update its data? realtime vs. scheduled 
Why is the BI system important for your organization?Why should the BI system important for your organization? 

5 Questions to Ask About Digital Government

Today, we use Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in every aspect of our lives and in the future this use will only increase. Governments around the world are slowly but surely realizing this and are trying to take advantage of ICT. The use of ICT by governments to provide efficient and effective services at the Federal, State and Local levels is called Digital Government (or Electronic Government or e-gov). Broadly speaking, Digital Government revolves around improving interactions between Government-to-Government (G2G), Government-to-Business (G2B), Government-to-Citizen (G2C) and Government-to-Employee (G2E).

Interactions between Government-to-Government (G2G) can include but not limited to:

  • Federal Department(s)/Agencies with Federal Department(s)/Agencies
  • Federal Department(s)/Agencies with State Department(s)/Agencies
  • Federal Department(s)/Agencies with Local Department(s)/Agencies
  • State Department(s)/Agencies with Local Department(s)/Agencies
  • Federal Department(s)/Agencies with Federal Lawmakers
  • Federal Department(s)/Agencies with State Lawmakers
  • Federal Department(s)/Agencies with Local Lawmakers
  • State Department(s)/Agencies with Local Lawmakers
  • Federal Lawmakers with Federal Lawmakers
  • Federal Lawmakers with State Lawmakers
  • Federal Lawmakers with Local Lawmakers
  • State Lawmakers with Local Lawmakers
  • Federal Department(s)/Agencies with Federal Judiciary
  • Federal Department(s)/Agencies with State Judiciary
  • Federal Department(s)/Agencies with Local Judiciary
  • Federal Judiciary with Federal Judiciary
  • Federal Judiciary with State Judiciary
  • Federal Judiciary with Local Judiciary
  • State Judiciary with Local Judiciary
  • Military with Military
  • Military with International Military
  • Federal Department(s)/Agencies with Military
  • State Department(s)/Agencies with Military
  • Local Department(s)/Agencies with Military
  • Intelligence Department(s)/Agencies with Military
  • Intelligence Department(s)/Agencies with International Military
  • Intelligence Department(s)/Agencies with Intelligence Department(s)/Agencies
  • Intelligence Department(s)/Agencies with International Intelligence Department(s)/Agencies
  • Federal Department(s)/Agencies with Intelligence Department(s)/Agencies
  • State Department(s)/Agencies with Intelligence Department(s)/Agencies
  • Local Department(s)/Agecnies with Intelligence Department(s)/Agencies
  • Military with Intelligence Department(s)/Agencies
  • Federal Department(s)/Agencies with International Organizations
  • Federal Department(s)/Agencies with International Governments

Interactions between Government-to-Business (G2B) can include but not limited to:

  • Federal Department(s)/Agencies with Government-Owned Organizations
  • Federal Department(s)/Agencies with For-Profit Organizations
  • Federal Department(s)/Agencies with International For-Profit Organizations
  • Federal Department(s)/Agencies with Non-Profit Organizations
  • Federal Department(s)/Agencies with International Non-Profit Organizations
  • State Department(s)/Agencies with Government-Owned Organizations
  • State Department(s)/Agencies with For-Profit Organizations
  • State Department(s)/Agencies with International For-Profit Organizations
  • State Department(s)/Agencies with Non-Profit Organizations
  • State Department(s)/Agencies with International Non-Profit Organizations
  • Local Department(s)/Agencies with Government-Owned Organizations
  • Local Department(s)/Agencies with For-Profit Organizations
  • Local Department(s)/Agencies with International For-Profit Organizations
  • Local Department(s)/Agencies with Non-Profit Organizations
  • Local Department(s)/Agencies with International Non-Profit Organizations
  • Federal Lawmakers with Government-Owned Organizations
  • Federal Lawmakers with For-Profit Organizations
  • Federal Lawmakers with International For-Profit Organizations
  • Federal Lawmakers with Non-Profit Organizations
  • Federal Lawmakers with International Non-Profit Organizations
  • State Lawmakers with Government-Owned Organizations
  • State Lawmakers with For-Profit Organizations
  • State Lawmakers with International For-Profit Organizations
  • State Lawmakers with Non-Profit Organizations
  • State Lawmakers with International Non-Profit Organizations
  • Local Lawmakers with Government-Owned Organizations
  • Local Lawmakers with For-Profit Organizations
  • Local Lawmakers with International For-Profit Organizations
  • Local Lawmakers with Non-Profit Organizations
  • Local Lawmakers with International Non-Profit Organizations
  • Federal Judiciary with Government-Owned Organizations
  • Federal Judiciary with For-Profit Organizations
  • Federal Judiciary with International For-Profit Organizations
  • Federal Judiciary with Non-Profit Organizations
  • Federal Judiciary with International Non-Profit Organizations
  • State Judiciary with Government-Owned Organizations
  • State Judiciary with For-Profit Organizations
  • State Judiciary with International For-Profit Organizations
  • State Judiciary with Non-Profit Organizations
  • State Judiciary with International Non-Profit Organizations
  • Local Judiciary with Government-Owned Organizations
  • Local Judiciary with For-Profit Organizations
  • Local Judiciary with International For-Profit Organizations
  • Local Judiciary with Non-Profit Organizations
  • Local Judiciary with International Non-Profit Organizations

Interactions between Government-to-Citizens (G2C) can include but not limited to:

  • Federal Department(s)/Agencies with Citizens inside the Country
  • Federal Department(s)/Agencies with Citizens outside the Country
  • State Department(s)/Agencies with Citizens inside the Country
  • State Department(s)/Agencies with Citizens outside the Country
  • Local Department(s)/Agencies with Citizens inside the Country
  • Local Department(s)/Agencies with Citizens outside the Country
  • Federal Lawmakers with Citizens inside the Country
  • Federal Lawmakers with Citizens outside the Country
  • State Lawmakers with Citizens inside the Country
  • Local Lawmakers with Citizens inside the Country
  • Federal Judiciary with Citizens inside the Country
  • Federal Judiciary with Citizens outside the Country
  • State Judiciary with Citizens inside the Country
  • Local Judiciary with Citizens inside the Country
  • Military with Citizens inside the Country
  • Military with Citizens outside the Country
  • Intelligence Department(s)/Agencies with Citizens inside the Country
  • Intelligence Department(s)/Agencies with Citizens outside the Country

Interactions between Government-to-Employee (G2E) can include but not limited to:

  • Federal Department(s)/Agencies improving Business Processes to Empower Government Employees
  • State Department(s)/Agencies improving Business Processes to Empower Government Employees
  • Local Department(s)/Agencies improving Business Processes to Empower Government Employees
  • Federal Department(s)/Agencies improving IT Processes to Empower Government Employees
  • State Department(s)/Agencies improving IT Processes to Empower Government Employees
  • Local Department(s)/Agencies improving IT Processes to Empower Government Employees
  • Federal Lawmakers improving Business Processes to Empower Government Employees
  • State Lawmakers improving Business Processes to Empower Government Employees
  • Local Lawmakers improving Business Processes to Empower Government Employees
  • Federal Lawmakers improving IT Processes to Empower Government Employees
  • State Lawmakers improving IT Processes to Empower Government Employees
  • Local Lawmakers improving IT Processes to Empower Government Employees
  • Federal Judiciary improving Business Processes to Empower Government Employees
  • State Judiciary improving Business Processes to Empower Government Employees
  • Local Judiciary improving Business Processes to Empower Government Employees
  • Federal Judiciary improving IT Processes to Empower Government Employees
  • State Judiciary improving IT Processes to Empower Government Employees
  • Local Judiciary improving IT Processes to Empower Government Employees
  • Military improving Business Processes to Empower Military Employees
  • Military improving IT Processes to Empower Military Employees
  • Intelligence Department(s)/Agencies improving Business Processes to Empower Employees
  • Intelligence Department(s)/Agencies improving IT Processes to Empower Employees

From the above non-exhaustive list, we can see that governments need ICT more than ever to enhance communications and improve operations. This, in turn, means that becoming a Digital Government is not only a nice-to-have but a must-have. The importance of ICT to domestic government operations and international cooperation is such that in 2001 the United Nations (UN) started administering surveys about a country’s e-gov capabilities and then ranking each country through the United Nation’s E-Government Development Index (EGDI). The following chart shows the rankings of the top 20 countries from 2001 to 2018:

As we notice from the above chart, most of the top 20 countries that lead in the Digital Government are democracies in developed nations. Perhaps there are lessons to be learned here for developing and under-developed countries. We need to be cognizant that Digital Government:

  1. Is about keeping the Citizen at the center to create delightful customer experiences
  2. Is about continuous improvement mindset through ICT
  3. Is not about a one-time activity/project
  4. Is not about Citizens who are only online

Keeping all these in mind, in order to start and continue to create societies of the future, countries around the world need to ask the following questions:

Today Tomorrow
Who is your direct and indirect customer?Who should be your direct and indirect customer?
What government services are being provided that are digitized?What government services should be digitized?
Where can citizens get government services? online vs. offlineWhere should citizens get government services? online vs. offline
When are government services considered inefficient?When should government services be considered inefficient?
Why Digital Government is important for your country?Why Digital Government should be important for your country?

Can Technology Help During a Pandemic?

As of writing this article, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 85,641 cases of the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in 57 countries which have led to 2,933 deaths. The WHO is recommending that people should:

  1. wash their hand frequently
  2. maintain social distancing
  3. avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
  4. practice respiratory hygiene
  5. seek medical assistance when needed
  6. stay informed

The above WHO recommendations are both at the individual and societal responsibility levels that each one of us should follow. In today’s hyper-connected global economy, societal responsibility is of the utmost importance. By all indications, COVID-19 which still does not have a vaccine yet is very close to becoming a pandemic. Organizations around the world have a societal responsibility to also help in containing COVID-19 from spreading. While most organizations around the world do not have the resources to monitor for all the recommendations by the WHO but these organizations still can have an impact on helping maintain social distancing and keeping their employees informed.

In terms of helping maintain social distance, organizations can create possibilities for people to work from home even if they are not sick. The incubation period of COVID-19 is 14 days and by the time it is known that an individual is infected s/he might have unknowingly affected others. By having people work from home, organizations can help slow or even stop the spread of COVID-19 within their own organizations. Unless organizations are in an industry that requires physical labor, most of the people around the world sit in front of a computer screen to do their work which means they can work from home. In order to set up people to work from home, organizations need to discuss the possibilities with their Chief Information Officers (CIOs). If your organization is not large enough to have a technology leader on staff then generally speaking, here is what you need to do:

  1. Create your own, buy or subscribe to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service
  2. Create your own, buy or subscribe to a Teleconference service
  3. Remind employees to follow all the same rules of information security at home as if they were working from their work locations
  4. Provide laptops, ipads, and phones as needed for their work
  5. Provide paper, pens, pencils and other stationery as needed for their work
  6. Reimburse them for electricity and mobile service charges (if you can not provide phones) to them
  7. Create a culture of trust

In terms of keeping your employees informed, organizations can help by:

  1. Create open communications across the organization by giving and getting regular updates via email, phone, website, wiki, messaging services, etc. to and from employees
  2. Create a culture of trust

Going back to the original question of if technology can help during a pandemic, the answer is a resounding yes! And while you are creating work-from-home possibilities, keep in mind that you do not need an excuse for a global health crisis to help your employees.

Technical Chops of The Democratic Presidential Candidates

On November 3, 2020, The United States of America will hold its presidential election. This presidential election will determine if Republican President Donald J. Trump gets another 4 years in office or if there will be a new Democratic President. The Democratic Presidential Candidates cover a lot of topics that they think are of interest to the American public.  For me that topic is technology. Specifically, the technology policies, the technology uses and the technology abuses in the private and public sectors.

Everything we do today and the foreseeable future is either directly, or indirectly related to technology. Thus, in this post, I am going to go through each Democratic Presidential Candidate’s campaign pages to know what they are saying about technology and then provide my own views. Here it goes…

In My Point of View:

The United States needs data privacy legislation at the federal, state and local levels. In order to create data privacy legislation, all levels of government and industry have to:

  1. Define what data is and isn’t
  2. Who (companies, consumers, government) have this data
  3. How data privacy legislation would apply when data is captured, at-rest, in-motion, in-between systems/apps, etc.
  4. Create global alliances across countries and regions
  5. Develop a course of action when agreed-upon rules are not followed

Let’s keep this in mind that even though Europe has the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California has the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), currently, there is no data privacy legislation that is 100% global in nature.

In regards to taxing the organizations that sell consumer data, while on paper it seems alluring but the problem is that when most consumers sign up for ‘free’ services online (i.e., social media, email, etc.), they essentially agree to however the organization likes to use their data. Also, some organizations could avoid data taxation if they simply store and sell the data in a country that doesn’t tax them on data transactions. This, in turn, can create more problems for the safekeeping of the data.

In regards to putting extra government fees on megadeals (i.e., mergers, acquisitions, etc.) would although make the budgets bigger for regulatory agencies but, on the flip side, megadeals could become a rubber stamp just to collect higher government fees. In a megadeal, when organizations have to figure out if their deals would affect current and future competition, this would require a tremendous amount of time and resources whose costs might be passed on to the consumer in either price and/or more detailed data collection.

If a government agency is tasked with breaking up tech, this would require a big budget and expertise to truly understand what is happening in tech and it’s nuances in these companies. Asking these agencies to go break tech up would just create a mess especially when these companies always have the option to operate from another country whose rules might be more relaxed. Additionally, the government doesn’t pay well and to think that super-smart people will work for the government their whole careers are just foolhardy.

In My Point of View:

The Green New Deal focuses on creating technologies that can tackle climate change. While this is a good approach, I think in order to make it stronger, it is essential to look at the current impact of technology on consumers, how technology is marketed to consumers and the waste technology creates when it comes to energy consumption and physical materials harvested from the Earth. We also have to look at how recycling of technology works. Recycle should not be just a collection of technology waste and disposal, but it should be a 360-degree approach where the emphasis is on reusing old technology and technology parts. Also, we have to consider the impact to jobs when moving to a 100% green economy. The government could provide free training and job training which could help reduce some anxiety.

In regards to Broadband, it should be a fundamental right for every person to have access to high-speed Internet. While the government can help in creating the incentives to create the infrastructure for it, we have to be reminded that the monopoly of internet access providers is a very real threat.

In My Point of View:

Information and disinformation tactics have been used for a long time throughout human history. These tactics have taken on a new face in today’s digitally connected world. The idea that anyone can start disinformation on any social media website with a few clicks is concerning. Ideally, the private sector and public sectors would put checks and balances in place to monitor and ensure disinformation is not used. However, it is a threefold problem where disinformation production, disinformation consumption, and disinformation monitoring have to be dealt with equally. As humans, we are prone to biases and these get amplified once we are online. Additionally, we have to note that most social media organizations are for-profit entities and thus there are no incentives for these organizations to make disinformation dissemination a priority.

In regards to breaking up tech, to spur innovation and competition seems good on paper but what is essentially being said is that if an organization reaches a certain size then the government will look into breaking them up. This idea seems anti-capitalistic. Tech is an ecosystem and breaking up tech means disrupting that ecosystem. To be clear, because of these tech ecosystems, many small businesses have also emerged. Think about the small businesses that are able to advertise on Google to anyone in the world, think about small businesses that use Amazon to sell their products to a wider audience, think about small businesses that have used Facebook as a place to test their marketing strategies at a bare minimum cost. The ripple effects of a tech breakup have to be understood and studied thoroughly before going this route. Additionally, due to global reach and connected, tech is not bound to one geographical location. These tech organizations can simply pack their bags and move to more tech-friendly countries which means that not only will there be job loss but also brain drain.

In My Point of View:

For the climate change revolution to take place, we need to look at energy production as well as energy consumption. We can’t out-tech our way out of the imminent climate disaster. We have to look at energy holistically which means to make tough choices when it comes time to do so. But these tough choices don’t have to be at the expense of anyone. While it is true that climate change revolutions will create many jobs but what about the jobs that would be lost. We have to provide incentives for people to join the new green economy. No one should be left behind.

The future of Education requires us to think in terms of a lifetime approach to pursuing knowledge. In this pursuit, teachers, coaches, parents, and guardians play an important role in addition to the environment that we create for the students. To hamper a student’s lifetime success simply because they were born in certain zip codes is simply, cruel. Everyone should have the ability to pursue knowledge physically and/or virtual regardless of their situation. This is where technology comes into play. Technology can be the great equalizer not only in terms of pursuing knowledge online but also in terms of making students globally competitive. We have to teach not only the ability to use technology but teach the ability to enhance, modify, develop, and extrapolate what technology can do.

  • Michael Bloomberg
  1. Infrastructure
  2. All-In Economy

In My Point of View:

The US needs to update its infrastructure and create new infrastructure that enhances the quality of life for all its residents. Infrastructure is not only about roads, bridges, and transportation but it’s about technology as well. Technology infrastructure means fiber optics, networking switches, broadbands, various types of clouds and software. As long as we don’t include technology as part of overall infrastructure goals, we will surely become obsolete sooner than later.

In regards to creating jobs of the future, we have to make a decision about what future we want. A future without considering the effects of technology will not be a future at all. In the long term, most jobs can and will be replaced by technology. The question is not if but when and when is happening right now. The people who will be displaced are tremendous and its high time we take our heads out of the sand. As technology becomes more commoditized, jobs will be for people who not only understand the technology but who can also connect the dots through technology.

  • Pete Buttigieg
  1. Education
  2. Building for the 21st Century

In My Point of View:

When it comes to looking at the economy as a whole and other countries are doing. Providing technology education is important. What is also important is not losing those who pursue higher education in the US and then are forced to leave to their home countries. These people in those countries then compete directly with the US. This process can’t continue. Technology education can unlock the potential of a generation but we can’t forget those who will be left behind.

In regards to building for the 21st century, we have to think about where we are, where we want to be and what it will take in terms of initiatives from federal, state, local, non-profit, for-profit and academia. We have to think not only in terms of physical things but we also have to look at the happiness of our residents and the positive effects we can create for the environment.

In comparison, here are the technological achievements of President Trump so far.

Final Thoughts

While all of the above technology-related topics are important but what we are missing is a comprehensive National Digital Strategy that is agreed upon at the federal, state and local levels. What we need are legislators and regulators who understand the power of technology. What we need are people who know that technology can change the economy and even the government.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

%d bloggers like this: