Delivering actionable intelligence tailored to each stakeholder

This is a transcript of The Axway Podcast of the same name.

ANNOUNCER: From Phoenix, Arizona, this is The Axway Podcast. Here’s your host, Mike Pallagi.

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PALLAGI: Operational intelligence — a category of real-time dynamic, business analytics that delivers visibility and insight into data, streaming events, and business operations — seems to be getting more and more press lately. Organizations seem to be realizing that there are lots of opportunities to pull together data and make better business decisions. So to learn more about this, I caught up with Laurent Van Huffel, Axway’s Vice President of Sales for Operational Intelligence, and asked him what’s driving today’s enterprises to use operational intelligence to improve operations?

VAN HUFFEL: There are multiple reasons for why the enterprise will use operational intelligence. Let me just start with a few things. One is, typically organizations, or specifically operations, are organized in silos. So many of the staff, or business operations people who make sure that the executions of the business process happened as it should — and at the end of the day, the commitment that had been made by the company to their customers are fulfilled every day — have a difficulty to ensure that this is happening, because they don’t have an end-to-end visibility of the executions of this process. So they’re kind of blind: they can see one piece but not the whole (of) pieces.

PALLAGI: Laurent said another reason is that organizations are just tired of being reactive rather than proactive. Historically, when something goes wrong, like a payment not being made, for instance, companies often learn about the missed payment only once they get a complaint from the unpaid party. And that creates a bunch of issues, everything from damaged reputations to missed SLAs. And all of that can be very costly. So being able to resolve process issues in real time before it impacts your customers’ businesses is one of operational intelligence’s big perks. But there are others, too.

VAN HUFFEL: Three major benefits, or three major business drivers, for which you know you would build a business case for companies: one is risk mitigation, the second one is operational efficiency, and the third one is customer experience improvement.

PALLAGI: Before Laurent goes into all that, it’s important to keep in mind that every business process has multiple stakeholders who work together to execute the business process straight through to the end. Supervisors, executives, managers. Sometimes payments even have to be manually returned. There’s still no shortage of things for actual human beings to do in this process. But anyway, here’s Laurent again.

VAN HUFFEL: Operational intelligence, first and foremost, has to deliver actionable intelligence that is customized and tailored to each stakeholder, because each stakeholder has different operational objectives and therefore they have different concerns. And those concerns are about what could happen to prevent them (from meeting) the objectives. You need to deliver contextual content in the form of digital dashboards or alerts to different people.

PALLAGI: Laurent said that operational intelligence solutions should be agnostic from the underlying competing infrastructure so that they can collect information from different sources and create high-level, end-to-end views. And then as the operational intelligence solution is collecting data, it should crunch the numbers — a whole raft of numbers, really — to figure out ahead of time what might go wrong, a sort of high-tech prognostication.

VAN HUFFEL: So, for instance, you have an order that has been stuck into a business step for too long. Or you have an abnormal number of payments that failed their STP route and are going into manual repair. Why would there be a concern, for instance, is that because if you have way more (payments) going for repair than (usual), maybe you’re going to exceed your manpower capacity to repair those payments fast enough. And therefore you may miss an important payment cut off.

PALLAGI: So it collects real-time data from multiple sources, analyzes this information into a matrix that’s been configured to create the business logic to address each of the concerns of each of the stakeholders, and it publishes that information in the form of actionable intelligence to dashboards or via alerts so that everyone who needs to know about it will know about it.

VAN HUFFEL: It’s not just pure real-time information as well. You need to compare real-time information with historical, contextual data.

PALLAGI: For example, maybe you might want to compare your activity today to a typical day’s activity throughout the last month.

VAN HUFFEL: Depending on who you are, you are going to expect different type of information because that information has to address the specific objective that you have. You will expect personalized and production-ready solutions in a few days. You can deploy… There is no coding that comes into play. It’s all point-and-click, drag-and-drop, in order to configure the right business logic to create those dashboards. And again you are going to create the logic depending on… To provide the right content to the right persons.

PALLAGI: Laurent noted that “an operational intelligence solution is very incremental.” And what I gathered from that is that it’s got a quick learning curve — you can customize dashboards in about two or three days, but then once you do, you’ve undertaken a journey, rather than arrived at a destination. Because you’ll start with a dashboard that’s configured one way, but as business conditions change, modifications will almost always be necessary.

VAN HUFFEL: And that’s perfectly okay. You will maybe you want to modify the layout or you want to add additional KPIs or new information in order to meet new demands or new changing conditions. Because there was a dashboard editor that allows you to make those changes extremely easily and very quickly, then you will continually adapt the content of the dashboards to your business, to your own test, if you will, and so on. Very authoritative, very incremental. It’s quick, it’s agile, it’s contextual. You can mix real-time information with historical, contextual information. You can create reports. You can receive alerts if you are not in front of your computer.

To learn more about operational intelligence, please click here.

The Imperative for Effective Data Flow Governance

This is a transcript of the Axway podcast of the same name.

ANDREWS: One of the things that really comes through is that status quo, while it being the easiest thing for IT organizations to deal with…it’s problematic. The reason why is we don’t see technology remaining status quo in any environment or any part of our life, so why should it be that way for IT departments?YouTube Preview Image

ANNOUNCER: From Phoenix, Arizona, this is The Axway Podcast. Here’s your host, Mike Pallagi.

PALLAGI: Recently, Axway and Ovum — a leading global technology research and advisory firm — announced the results of a global study that examined data security, governance, and integration challenges facing organizations. The study highlighted how the growing complexity of governance and compliance initiatives challenge IT integration and C-level executives, and how isolation between IT integration and corporate governance forms economic and reputational risks. Of the 450 respondents from North America, Asia Pacific, and EMEA, 23 percent said their company failed a security audit in the last three years, while 17 percent either didn’t believe or didn’t know if they would pass a compliance audit today. The study also revealed that the average overall cost of a data breach was $3 million. So to learn more about the significance of these numbers, I caught up with John Andrews, Axway’s Director of Solution Marketing for Managed File Transfer. Here’s John again.

ANDREWS: Business environments are changing, external threats are changing. If you don’t look at your key technology and adapt it to these upcoming threats in business environments, it exposes problems that may have already been there or it can show new problems that the changing environments have occurred. So what we really want people to look at is, using things like FTP and other traditional file transfer approaches, staying status quo, will ultimately lead to problems in their overall environment.

PALLAGI: The Ovum report pointed out that a comprehensive MFT solution is essential for meeting increasingly complex data security governance requirements.

ANDREWS: It used to be enough to just secure transfers, and what organizations worried about was the delivery. Now, that’s not enough. You have to be able to deliver, track, and audit every transfer that you make. And it has to be done securely, not only for the transport, but securely for the data as well. The only way you really can do this is by implementing a comprehensive governance solution that (not only) manages policies and configurations, but is also easy to manage with updates and changes based on the way that business environments and external threats change. So this ties into that initial point of “staying status quo doesn’t really help organizations.”

PALLAGI: And what about community management and how MFT simplifies it?

ANDREWS: This is probably one of the biggest challenges I think companies experience. It used to be that interactions were dealt with…just external partners, but only a handful of partners. You had key people that you worked with, and you worked with them consistently all year around. Again, with the way the business environments have changed, you still have your core partners, but you have seasonal partners or transitory partners. This is because of the diversification of the way that people are doing business, cost competition in supplying parts, and supplying a product that companies use. And sometimes it’s just timing.

PALLAGI: So, for example, your core partner may not have something that you need at the right time so you’ll engage for a short period of time with a new partner. The problem is that the onboarding process has always been somewhat complex and cumbersome, so if there’s a way to simplify that through a governance process, then THAT can create significant business opportunities for organizations by giving them flexibility on how they interact with different partners.

ANDREWS: Then the Ovum report moves on to talk about a consolidation strategy for file transfer infrastructure, used to reduce footprints and maintenance and support costs. What we’ve seen in the past two to three years is that IT budgets have rebounded somewhat, and because of the security concerns that have been raised through data breaches, the events like Target and most recently JP Morgan Chase have really exposed that there are security concerns. The problem is that money isn’t being thrown at these problems, so IT departments need to come up with cohesive and comprehensive strategy that allows them to address these security needs. And it’s key from when you dig into the facts that file transfer technology has to be part of this. Companies still using FTP are at greater risk of data breaches, and because of this, file transfer technology is probably even more crucial to businesses than it has been in the past.

PALLAGI: Also, the report indicated that there’s a transition going on from governance silos to a central governance layer.

ANDREWS: This is something that, at Axway, we’ve been talking about for a while in that companies need a comprehensive strategy for their file transfer technology. If you look at one of the aerospace companies that we work with, they have both military and civilian divisions. While a civilian divisions does not have the same kind of security requirements as the military divisions, they’re both within the same organization. And by one of the divisions having a more lax environment, it could cause trouble for the military division because they are interconnected.

PALLAGI: That organization took a centralized approach to the way that they do file transfers and made sure that each of the divisions actually adhered to the policies that they laid out.

ANDREWS: This centralized vision and control of information is then independent of the divisional silos, and it makes sure that the data that’s moving in and around the environment, and externally, is secured. Finally, the Ovum report identifies that there needs to be a more thought-out process to MFT, B2B integration, and API management solutions. The way I summarize this is, just like you don’t want corporate silos in your organization for IT, you don’t want technology silos within your IT organization. Meaning, you have a separate MFT group, a separate B2B group, and a separate API group. Those technologies, the technologies that span firewalls, need to be thought of more holistically in the way that they’re managed. This means that they need to have policies that can be applied across all the technologies with similar or the same level of security, and that you should be able to govern them centrally so that you can ensure that there’s consistency in the way that data is moved in and out your environments.

To review the whitepaper titled “The Imperative for Effective Data Flow Governance in Response to Data Security, Risk Mitigation, and Compliance Requirements,” please click here.

To listen to the podcast on YouTube (audio only), please click here.