The explosive growth of big data means companies can gain greater insights across the entire organisation. Thanks to the real-time nature of the digital world, decision-makers can more dynamically react to market conditions than in the past. A vital tool, which helps unpack the potential in this environment, is the Information Landscape Audit (ILA).
Given how the amount of data sources have increased and the business users’ need for easily accessible data, companies need to carefully manage the information that gets stored in their back-end systems. But it is not only the quantity of it that is proving challenging, but also its quality and how users benefit and interact with the available insights.
Fortunately, the data and reporting environments of companies grow organically over time. It is as much a function of their evolving needs as it is of their changing business requirements. But unlike previously where it took several years for this change to take place, the modern boardroom sees this happening on an almost monthly basis. The inevitable ‘rush’ this leads to can cause significant issues around integration between systems as well as employees’ ability to perform effective analysis for quality reporting.
To combat this, an ILA asks fundamental and objective questions around the existing technology investment of an organisation, the state of its data, and what is the end goal or problem the business needs to solve. Typically, this should address specific questions as they pertain to a business environment, storage structures, data usage, technology awareness, and end user requirements.
The ILA does truly help organisations with the ability to differentiate themselves and provide the business with the competitive edge needed for a real-time market, reflect an awareness of the existing technology landscape, show an understanding of technology integration, and deliver on specific business requirements. This enables the audit framework to include all facets that need to be assessed. These include governance, technology platforms, organisational capabilities and requirements, and logical architecture. Furthermore, this assessment is measured against the business’ strategic objectives to identify areas where optimisation can occur.
So, apart from being able to manage data better and draw up more accurate reports, what does an ILA bring to the business? For one, it provides executives with full visibility of all their information assets. This means they can quickly assess the need to either get additional resources (whether virtualised or on-premise) or optimise their existing ones.
This actionable insight means that the entire organisation will have access to information that is up-to-date, complete, and accurate. There is therefore no need to make ‘best guesses’ on what has worked in the past as all information reflects the most current customer responses, use-case scenarios, and the like.
Perhaps one of the most important benefits of the modern ILA is that business has an overall view for their current environment which allows for either developing a data strategy or ensuring the environment allows for such a strategy, whether it be offensive or defensive. Gaps in the processes and the business requirements, in terms of business intelligence and technology, can be identified. This can all lead to the business running more efficiently.
However, an ILA on its own can only take a business so far. To really gain advantage from it, the audit needs to review the current and projected budget spent on technology, make recommendations, and assist in providing the business with a data and business intelligence roadmap.
Through the ILA, the company can combine awareness of the existing technology landscape and how it is integrated with the business requirements from their information strategy to develop specific goals to achieve business growth for the future.
By Michael Martin, Engagement manager at Decision Inc.