Some Other Aspect of Solution Selection

By Shiv Shankar Datta, Head IT, FCA Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

CFO vs. other CXO

There is complete different angle of looking at things in the company by a CFO and by any other CXO ( including CIOs).

For any project, solution, activity etc., in most cases, the head of that area is fascinated about the value, technology, moral of the people, impression among the peers in the industry are important factors. For the CIO also similar things like latest technology, first adopter, advance level of the solution are important factors. Many times they would try to create & fit in business benefit for becoming the “Pioneer” in introducing the technology in the industry.

The CFO on the other hand mainly bothers about the money honey. For them, any solution makes sense as long as it’s truly bringing monetary benefit to the business. Rest all are add-on’s. To some extent, the CEO also get inclined to this view – even if not fully.

So for selling any solution internally in the organization, the CFO’s point of view should be calculated beforehand.

An Elephant for killing Ant

What solution is exactly required for a business issue ? Many time, for a business issue, which may have been solved by a simple solution, the vendor proposes a big solution.  For example, for handling few dealer/distributors selling few numbers of SKU’s a month (by volume), the vendor may propose a big fat & complex application. The solution may be one of the best in the industry but at the same time may require high capital cost & high maintenance cost. The same could have been achieved by a simple web based cloud solution or even, may be, excel.

This happens mostly when business managers directly deal with the IT service provider, bypassing the IT department completely. Every vendor has the sales team who are measured by the deal figure. Thus even if they understand the situation, they are compelled to push more than what is needed. Every module requires – implementation, support, license, Server resource cost etc. So even one module unused or less used may impact in making the solution fatter then actually required.

A Dove doesn’t need Peacock Feathers

Not every new technology is for everyone. Many managers have the tendency to jump into new technical jargons & somehow fitting the same into the business but many times these help only fulfilling KPAs of some, unused or not adding value to the business after words. For example in the latest Jargon, SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud), customer facing companies need the “S (Social)” component in a big way but some companies like tier 2 or tier 3 suppliers may not need this much.

Risk vs. Cost

This is one very important decision for the CXO. How much risk appetite. Like the correct amount of life insurance depend upon the net worth of the person & his ability to pay the premium cost lifelong, business is also the same.

Some important question to be asked are – what is the importance of the data, how much data the business can afford to lose in case of any eventuality, how much security needed, what is the importance of this business data to the outside world etc. For example – not every company on earth need the data or access security to the level of NASA or DRDO. An automobile company doesn’t need the system uptime like that of a bank.

This is important because every step extra would cost the company. Also the cost difference is more so high between the “near perfect” & “complete perfect” solution. 

How much Real time ??

Right Data At Right Time is valued – else not. Ask this to a media person & the reality is more convincing. But this “Right Time” is not same for every business. For media, the time gap between “availability of data” & “Birth of Data (News)” is most crucial. For stock exchanges, data update every minute is very important. But is this the same for every business. May not be. For an auto company, availability of data till yesterday transaction, may be sufficient. 

Everybody talks about real time data availability. This has increased more so with the evolution of Mobility & Analytics. But Some companies may not achieve great value by having true real time data. In contrary, may be, these companies may get the same value with “Real time” or “Near Real Time” data availability. Thus every company may not need to invest for truly real time data. Although the cost difference between the solution for “Real time” and “Near Real Time” data availability is very high.

Pains are real thing !

Like our life can never be without pain, the same way any solution cannot guarantee trouble free business support. There will be issues always in any solution. The type, pattern & nature of issues are changing with time though. 10 years back, the issues were more basic by nature like issue in coding or solution malfunctioning. Today the issue may be more due to the introduction of a new technology module (Hardware or Software) into the solution package or may be due to the fact that the user is never satisfied & demand more futuristic solutions. One way this also helps the ICT managers to evolve more in solution.

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