This post is from the Numerify blog and has not been updated since the original publish date.
How Does a System of Record Fit Into a System of Intelligence?
CIOs are one of the main drivers of bringing the power of analytics to power digital transformation of the business. But like the cobbler's children who had no shoes, the IT function often lacks the business analytics needed to make the most impactful resource allocations, innovate faster, and deliver superior service to internal and external customers. To drive innovation and digitally transform your organization, you need a true System of Intelligence (SOI) for your company's IT data. As a relatively recent development, Systems of Intelligence are still a source of some confusion for many IT departments. One of the most common questions we get is: "What insights can I get from a System of Intelligence that I can't get from my System of Record?" Let's explore this question in a little more detail. What is a System of Record? A system of record (SOR) is an information storage system that is the definitive data source for a piece of information or data element. A good way to define a "System of Record" (SOR) or source system of record (SSoR) is the data (and application built on top) that powers a critical business function. From an IT perspective, the major systems of record in your enterprise typically include the following:
- IT Service Management (ITSM) (E.g., ServiceNow, BMC Remedy)
- Human capital management (HCM) (E.g., Workday)
- Project and Portfolio Management (E.g., CA Clarity PPM)
- Software Development (Atlassian JIRA)
In the current age of digital transformation, your SORs hold valuable insights that can allow you to make data driven decisions. However, you can't only rely on your SOR to gain comprehensive intelligence for one fundamental reason: the data in it is meant to support a single set of business functions. Within a single SOR, enriching reports and analysis with data from other internal or external systems can be complicated. E.g., if you want to truly measure customer satisfaction with IT Services you need to combine data from many sources such as ITSM, application performance management, and social channels. This is no easy task. Additionally, data in an SOR is typically stored in a format that is optimized for use by an application, not analytics. This can make it hard to adopt AI or Machine Learning techniques. Collecting and preparing data can take up 80% of the effort in building an ML model. This also typically means that while an SOR does a decent job of providing pre-built reports on a single process, it is difficult to explore hypotheses that span multiple domains or require you to dig deeper. This can be exemplified by asking a question. For instance: Were my expensive development resources spending too much time responding to excessive incident escalations from a particular region or service provider? What is a System of Intelligence? Systems of Intelligence leverage data from your IT and enterprise systems of record, applying machine learning and predictive analytics to generate a higher level of insight and understanding. In general, a System of Intelligence does more than enable digital transformation—it can help managers and professionals dramatically improve business performance as a whole. For example, you can go beyond basic reports to find underutilized resources or systems that need to be shut down. In other cases, you can use insights to experiment with innovative methodologies like DevOps, quickly proving (or disproving) the value of new initiatives. The right System of Intelligence can answer vital IT questions that your business wants to know, such as:
- Can we identify hotspots in the quality of our software development lifecycle?
- How is our IT organization performing when we take into account quarterly objectives for metrics such as employee engagement, cost controls, operational robustness, and customer satisfaction?
- What is the allocation of our resources in terms of person-hours and dollars across employees and contractors?
- Which upcoming changes are at the highest risk of failure?
By providing a single, unified window into your company's operations, systems of intelligence provide more than just the advanced IT reporting found in a system of record. Instead, a System of Intelligence unifies your system of record, system of engagement, analytics tools, and other IT applications and metrics to create a full view of your IT operations that also provides business value. How Can You Use a System of Intelligence for IT? A System of Intelligence for IT provides you with a holistic view of your IT operations, service management, application development, and project management. It unites multiple data streams involving your people, processes, and technology. The capabilities of a System of Intelligence include reporting, analytics, and prediction giving you the "what", the "why"and "what is likely to happen". If an outage occurs, then you need to create a ticket and fix the problem immediately. But you also need to perform root cause analysis so that it doesn't happen again. It can uncover technical issues with a server or application, but can also reveal underlying flaws with your IT operations. These underlying issues might be not enough system testing or insufficient training of IT team members. SOIs help you formulate a variety of in-depth solutions to your IT pain points: retiring certain technologies, redesigning processes, and/or retraining personnel. Finally, a System of Intelligence uses the power of AI and Machine Learning to help you be proactive instead of reactive. For example, a system like this can gather operational data from timecards and resource utilization sources, streamline project demand forecasting, and forecast strategic resource needs. The right System of Intelligence can help you answer questions such as:
- Can I analyze asset performance, tie it to the risk of application failure, and thereby quantify the failure's impact on the business?
- Can I accurately predict my resource needs, balancing them effectively across transformation and ongoing operational activities?
- What is the expected ROI of our investment in a software defined data center, which is a cornerstone of our digital transformation initiatives?
- Can I properly manage my IT services and vendors while minimizing outages?
Final Thoughts By aggregating data from across your enterprise IT systems, systems of intelligence can help you become more efficient, productive, and in tune with your business processes. Interested in learning more about how a System of Intelligence can benefit your business as a whole? Download our ebook Visibility to Drive Digital Transformation: Why IT Needs a System of Intelligence today. [Photo credit: Shutterstock]