Cloud Options 101: Cloud, Hybrid Cloud, SaaS, or PaaS?

Cloud Options 101:
Cloud, Hybrid Cloud, SaaS, or PaaS?


There are a lot of options these days for cloud offerings.

If you are looking for a deep dive into the complexities underneath the covers, this document might be a bit too 101 level for you. We’ll discuss here at a high level, some of the different terms used to discuss cloud options, and some of the major players as well.


Simply put, the old joke goes “there is no cloud, there’s just somebody else’s computer”; this is pretty accurate, really.

This is more of a marketing term than a hard definition. Cloud refers to someone else’s data center, usually (more to come on this…); where usually some level of virtualization is in play. By some level, I refer to the many layers of virtualization in use today: from hardware, to OS, to network and storage, and I/O.
To back up a minute, a data center I will assume is a construct we all understand. Basically it’s an empty building with power, climate control, and high speed (hopefully) redundant internet feeds into which companies (or a single company) puts their servers and storage.
Most of the websites we know and love, live in someones data center, somewhere. Space in a data center can be rented out to store YOUR systems, that you move there, or ‘bare metal’ servers onto which you load whatever you like. Or, as we will discuss, the operator or Cloud Services Provider (CSP) may have a proprietary layer, or a ‘platform’ they offer to run certain types of applications.
So if you have an application, and want to run it somewhere else, not on site, that’s moving to the cloud, no matter the vagaries or the options used.

Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid Cloud is a mixed solution; mixed, in that it means there is some software that still runs on premise, and some that runs in the cloud.
Hybrid: This doesn’t mean necessarily splitting applications, though sometimes that is done, this is just a general term referring to a situation where not everything is moved to the cloud.

SaaS: Software as a Service

SaaS, or Software as a Service, is where one accesses a ‘canned’ software product that just simply runs in the cloud, and is delivered via browser. The most obvious example of this is, though there are countless others.

PaaS: Platform as a Service

Finally, we have PaaS, or Platform as a Service.
While a little more involved than other cloud options, there are CSPs that offer platforms for .net applications, Linux applications, specialized IBM centric applications requiring DB2, WebSphere, and more. The licensing for the application subsystems (database, OS, web app servers, etc.) is included in the base metered price.

Which cloud options are right for you? 

Reach out for a consultation with us, and we’ll help you begin the journey to find the best cloud options for you.

You Are The Network

First there was the Stone Age. Then we learned how to manipulate and smelt metals, develop tools for hunting and farming implements, which led to an Agrarian age. From there, machines helped bring about the Industrial age, then the Space Age. So where are we now?
Shall we call it the Network Age?
Robert Metcalf co-invented Ethernet, the idea of a packet based, distributed network, and formulated Metcalf’s law, which states (paraphrased): “the value of a network, is proportional to the square of the number of connected users.” Or stated more simply, the utility of a connected ‘thing’ increases as more and more ‘things’ are connected. The telephone acts as an easy example. One phone by itself is a paperweight, but one million connected to the same network is immeasurably powerful.
We live in a day of increasing connectivity, and increasing expectations we have as a result. Think back to just a few years before the ubiquitousness of the internet. How did we look up information? A phone book for a phone number? An encyclopedia for random information? How did we we find more targeted information? How well did a movie perform on its opening weekend? Who won the academy award for best actress in 1980? What was the high temperature in Nagasaki yesterday? These questions required real research. Today, they require only a smart phone, tablet or any web connected device. Even a smart watch will provide you with answers in milliseconds. We expect this, therefore we ARE changed by this new reality.
In short, the very nature of a thing changes with connectivity. This applies to us as well. As people, we are changed as a result of our ready access to a near limitless supply of information, facts, anecdotes and even dumb cat memes on social media. It’s not just the availability of this information, it’s how we live our lives knowing we have this access.
I remember years ago, likely in the late 80’s, working with a customer and arguing for the utility of networking their office PCs. At the time, each person had their own printer and files were moved from desk to desk via floppy. I failed in making my case and, I’ll note, they were out of business a few short years later. I am not implying causality, but a company today that doesn’t see the change in the world around them will likely see a similar fate in their future.
No one of us can pretend to live, work, or play in isolation any longer. Whether we are a fisherman in southern China or an executive on wall street, we are connected to each other by virtue of our connections to technology.
By extension, the isolationist aims of some politicians simply fail to recognize our world today. Some foreign governments have tried to shut down some internet sites or censor access entirely. Some succeed, while many fail, while still others have been overthrown. Remember the Arab Spring? No, the Egyptian situation wasn’t the fault of internet censorship, but the power of a network community of people gave voice to a populace in a way not previously seen. In addition, this connectivity has brought about a profound change in many third world countries. To stop jobs from moving overseas one would have to shut down the Internet to prevent companies from using overseas labor.
As a result of this increased connection, this ease by which we can communicate across vast distances instantaneously, we have seen a gradual leveling of the playing field. In many of these lands, education levels are improving, as are employment opportunities, even while standards of living improve. With a good network connection, one can live anywhere, and work for anyone that doesn’t require onsite employees. This connectivity has fundamentally shifted the balance of power in the world, by increasing opportunities for everyone.
We can no more become isolationist than we can revert to a stone age society. Not one of us would stand for it. Life and history only move in one direction.
To fully grasp our connectivity, we must look at the speed of life today. How long did it take someone to research an article, paper, or book 50 years ago? How long did it take to travel to Europe 100 years ago and at what cost? How much did a long distance call cost only a generation ago? Today, anyone can make a video call with someone anywhere on the globe instantly, and at an effective cost of zero. How has this changed us?
Speed has a profound effect on our lives. From expectations of traffic when traveling or commuting, to responsiveness of websites when shopping, to knowing our bank balance in real time, at any time of day. Speed is an extension of convenience. Would you rather go to a mall to purchase a book today, or order one online from Amazon? Better yet, log on with your kindle and have it instantly. Retail bookstores, and ultimately retailers in general, began to close their doors with a few years of each expansion of Amazon’s offerings.
Similarly, in years past, we chose to live based on schools for our children and where we worked. Today, a growing number of people work remotely, while still more take advantage of online schooling. Speed, and our expectations of it, has changed everything.
At the same time, we always demand more speed. We are hardwired to be more efficient, even to be lazy. To do more, in less time, with less effort. Build a bigger, wider, highway and more traffic will find it. Increase the speed of a network, more people will use it. Unsure about this? Try driving through traffic in LA or Toronto.
These changes have negative consequences as well as positive ones. Napoleon realized the value of the third dimension when mounting his armies. He recognized that air superiority could win the day, and so he introduced artillery and other air-born weapons not yet seen by his rivals. Similarly, the United States leveraged the air to save the day in World War I. In the 20th century, nations battled nations, and the winner, while both carrying superior resources, numbers and power, was ultimately the victor by recognizing a strategic advantage before their enemies.
Today, the nature of power has shifted, and world leaders face an ugly future if they fail to see it. So too must business leaders recognize this paradigm shift in the world and, by extension, in their customers, partners, and even employees. Amazon killed far larger retailers with their business model. Apple’s iTunes fundamentally changed the music industry, while Netflix forced the shuttering of Blockbuster stores. The common theme is seeing a different future brought about by connection. A world simply not possible prior to a widespread, universally accessed network. The power is in the network, and those who understand and leverage this, will rule the future.
Sadly, the ugly side of this is that many terrorist networks have figured out how to leverage networks and connectivity before our traditional world leaders. Just as military strength ruled the day in the previous century, network power and understanding it, will rule tomorrow’s world.
At the same time, we must also recognize we are the sum of our connections. As the network grows, so grows our value. The tide is rising and so to are all the ships. Each additional point or connection to us, no matter how remote or small, increases the overall value of us and our collective networks.
As we look to the future, we must understand this is more than another ‘paradigm shift’ in our society. This amounts to a redistribution of power in ways heretofore unknown in human experience.
In days gone by, power was concentrated among the few. Military leaders, the clergy, and wealthy merchants controlled most of the worlds power up until the 17th century. The industrial age saw power slowly redistributing as capitalism took hold, and led to the rise of the middle class.
Today however, networks both concentrate power among those who control networks, while also distributing it to users. More power has been placed in the hands of ‘everyman’ than ever before.
Networks are also made up of many complicated pieces. Routers, servers and switches make up the technical backbone. These are complicated items, but predictable and understandable. Together, they make up a complex system. Complex things are randomized, and unpredictable. A car is complicated, but predictable (at least to some extent). Traffic is complex. Both have complicated pieces, but complex things are more unpredictable. Like the weather, ocean currents, or storms.
In addition, complex systems lead to the creation of things previously unfathomable. Think about LinkedIn, Facebook or Snapchat as contemporary examples. Without their network of users, they are single web pages. They are nothing. Similarly, Uber, Airbnb, and other examples have led to the creation of new systems previously unimaginable. These businesses have also arisen with remarkable speed, and created immense riches for their founders.
Sadly, terrorist groups have also formed upon these network backbones. Isis emerged from this complexity. This process of creation of the unimaginable, is only just accelerating.
Networks contain enormous power at their core. To control such a system is arguably to control anyone connected to it, or at least to dramatically influence those users or connections. When we do a Google search, do we trust the results implicitly or second guess them?
Today’s networks are increasingly led by a young, technically savvy group of Technorati with limited experience with our world history, its politics or philosophy. Yet our world is led by a group of leaders with no experience with these new networks. We cannot go back, we can only look forward.
To quote Joshua Cooper Ramo, author of ‘The Seventh Sense’, who does a wonderful job of summarizing this new world order, “One thing is clear. If we are going to play a role in shaping our world. We don’t have much time.”
And remember, you are the network.

Why Everyone Should Invest In An ITSM Tool

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We’ve all heard the question before: “Should we invest in an IT Service Management Tool?”
The simple answer is yes. There’s really no counterpoint. Small, midmarket and enterprise organizations will benefit greatly from purchasing and then leveraging an IT Service Management Tool (ITSM) tool.
What Is IT Service Management (ITSM)?
At a high level, ITSM is the backbone of your IT organization. It’s the teams, groups and departments that handle the front-facing communication and support of your IT organization. They’re the ones that receive support requests and provide them to your backend teams, developers, etc. Think about them as the face of your IT organization. They need a management tool to do their jobs effectively.
What An ITSM Tool Can Do For You
There are many ITSM tools out there such as HP Service Manager, Remedy, Service Now, IBM Control Desk, C2 Atom and many more. Each offers its own user interface and reporting structure. Some have additional add-on tools and features or different levels of packages to support your unique needs. No matter the tool you select, the majority will at minimum come with a configuration management database (CMDB) as the backend database for your tool, as well as a basic ticketing system. Both of those tools are critical to the business, so you’re already winning, because your requests and your assets are being tracked in one tool. You can easily escalate and assign tickets for support or enhancements and do some basic reporting as well as track your assets. At a minimum you’ve just saved time and resources by streamlining your ticketing process.
Is that enough to write a use case and convince your company to look at investing in an ITSM tool. Maybe not. But it’s doesn’t stop there. We all know that IT changes, software changes and upgrades need to be put in, and service managers need to track these changes and/or obtain approval. We also need to make sure we’ve properly documented backout plans to ensure there are no conflicting changes happening during the same window. An ITSM Tool can do this for you. The change-management system in most ITSM Tools can automate your change-request process with enhanced questions that can assess the risk of the change and send automatic approval notifications to impacted parties utilizing your flashy new CMDB to get information on who owns the system or utilizes the system and who may be impacted by the change.
What’s so great is that it saves your change information and backout plans for future reference and knowledge sharing. Some even have an integrated change calendar that will show you any overlapping changes or maintenance windows that may impact your change. You’ll also be able to relate a change record to an incident ticket if additional support is needed during the change or if the change causes an outage. This is a more effective way to track any trending or knowledge needed for future changes.
Most ITSM tools also offer a knowledge base as on out-of-the-box option, because knowledge sharing and transfer is key to successful service management. The ability for a developer or network engineer to provide relevant information back to the service desk in a searchable format can increase your first-call resolutions (FCRs), or the time it takes to identify how to escalate an issue. The knowledge base can also be utilized to share knowledge to your user community with basic troubleshooting or automated support for frequently asked questions, issues or known issues with workarounds. This will in turn reduce the numbers or reoccurring calls to your service desk for issues that can be easily resolved by the user, and will free up your service desk analysts to handle more technical requests.
The above-mentioned features – CMDB, ticketing tool and knowledge base – are your basic features of an ITSM Tool. But there are other out-of-the-box functions, plus additional add-ons you can purchase to serve other business needs. These can include trending analysis, reporting/metrics, software-asset management, hardware-asset management, project-portfolio management, event-management integration, self-service portal, automated workflows, SMS escalations or phone-calling tree automation, and application-programming interfaces (APIs) that integrate with other systems to read from or write to the ITSM tool.
Why Do We Need An ITSM Tool?
Look at your IT organization and think for a moment of the services you provide. You most likely have some sort of request process for the service desk via email, phone, instant message or even web requests.
How do the service agents handle these requests? How do they document and resolve these requests? What happens if the request needs to be escalated?
The process you have in place probably works as requests are handled, problems get resolved and that guy on the 3rd floor who wanted a new laptop eventually got one. So why would you need an ITSM tool if everything is great and it works? Don’t fix it unless it’s broken, right? Wrong.
Even if your process seems like it’s working, is it really? Are you tracking changes? Can you easily provide trending analysis on common issues? Do you have a CMDB that stores your people, processes, assets and the lifecycle for them? Are your requests being escalated and turned around in an acceptable service level agreement (SLA)? How are work efforts prioritized? What happens when an outage occurs? Are teams notified? Is the outage documented and follow up on? How many different systems/applications are you utilizing to ensure these efforts happen? How much time, effort, support and money are you spending on these systems/applications to provide the basic functionality of requesting IT services?
Investing in an ITSM Tool will almost pay for itself simply by reducing the cost associated with support, time, resources and reoccurring outages. It’ll enable you to streamline your support process and even automate some of your manual tasks, like tracking, metrics reporting, and communicating about the services you provide to the organization.
Purchasing An ITSM Tool Vs. Building An In-House Tool
Let’s say you decide that an ITSM tool will absolutely help your organization. The purchasing cost is now under review, but you have a team of developers on the payroll that might have some availability to take on a project and produce an in-house ITSM solution. Here are some of the pros and cons to consider before building the tool in-house.

  • Everything’s done in-house
  • You don’t need to spend any money up front to acquire a product
  • There’s no licensing
  • Your dev team knows how to support it
  • It’s customized to your specific needs


  • Your developers are being paid to work on this project when they could be doing other production development
  • As your environment changes, your in-house solution will need to be updated, which will eat up more development time
  • If your solution is web-based and browsers, scripts and other plugins are updated, it may not work as intended and require more development
  • Knowledge transfer of the tool and how it was developed needs to be documented. If your developer leaves, the next developer must be able to support or upgrade the app
  • You may need to write code to integrate other applications such as email or phone into your app. As those systems are upgraded, the code may need to be revised
  • Requirements for the app may change as the organization matures or grows, which will consume additional development time
  • If and when the app reaches the end of its lifecycle, there’s no support or upgrade options readily available
  • There’s no CMDB, unless your team plans on developing one
  • The system of record will not be easily transferrable to another system of record if needed in the future

These are high-level pros and cons, but each organization will have more specific and customized lists depending on the functionality and requirements needed. Given all the cons, why not let someone else who’s already invested time and resources do the work for you? The tools out there are robust, and some are open for additional customization or in-house development to fit your specific needs. There are also additional support options for these tools to assist your organization when issues arise or during implementation.
Don’t waste your resources or time trying to reinvent the wheel when someone’s already invented one and enhanced it.
Original image by Max Max

The Value (Or Lack Thereof?) Of User Groups

For the past 25 years I’ve played an active role in a variety of information-technology user groups. Back in the 1980s, we called these special interest groups (SIGs). I started off with several Delphi groups and then, as my interests evolved, moved on to Paradox. After that I participated in enterprise groups centered on IBM products and open-source technologies.
Then something happened – The Internet.
When I first went online in the late 1980s with Compuserve, it wasn’t easy. I predate AOL, and though I never did find much use for it, I don’t judge those that did (or still do). I ran a few SIGs on Compuserve, or CIS, as we called it (Compuserve Information Service).
Then, as more and more people and companies moved online, a trend started to develop – fewer and fewer users attended SIGs in person. I moderate groups in the US and Canada covering mostly, but not exclusively, IBM products. I also assist IBM in building up its user-group participation. In addition, I attend SalesForce user-group meetings, since I’m both a user and my firm also does some SFC consulting and integration work.
Across the board, there has been a marked decline in user-group attendance for cities both big and small. I notice the difference when I attend and run groups in larger metrocenters like New York City, Toronto and Chicago, along with smaller cities like Buffalo, Cleveland and Pittsburgh. This summer, I hope to attend some in Europe and be able to glean some insight there.
The attendance decline brings about many challenges. I’m involved with one group that struggles each year to spend (that’s right – spend) the money accumulated through corporate membership fees. Another nagging concern is getting users to present at these meetings. The issue isn’t with the speakers, but rather with their employers’ legal teams. Many times legal restrains employees from presenting, which is a real problem when it comes down to the value of these sessions. There’s no shortage of vendors and manufacturers (of hardware and systems) who like to speak at user groups. That means these meetings can end up turning into sales pitches and commercials for software and systems. That defeats the whole point.
There’s no measure to the value of engaging with peers who face the same daily industry and workplace issues. Not only have I made priceless professional connections, but I’ve also formed lifelong friendships because of these groups. I’m never at a loss for a peer to bounce ideas off, ask  a quick question to or explore an innovative deployment tactic. The purpose of user groups is to share experiences, successes and pains. We can speak candidly on challenges we’ve faced and how we’ve resolved them. And yes, occasionally vendors step in to discuss coming releases, new features and use cases for their implementation.
Of course, user groups aren’t limited to just IT. As a weekend-warrior fitness junkie, I’m also involved in several running and triathlon clubs. As a result, I’m never at a loss for friends to join me on a long run in the evening or a lunchtime run during a sunny workday. Every group I participate in makes me better, stronger and more effective at whatever I’m focused on, be it professional or personal.
We are a tactile species. In our digital world, we forget the power of meeting people face-to-face. True, we can accomplish great feats behind our screens and phones, but forming trusting, long-term friendships usually isn’t one of them.

Why Should I Use An IBM Business Partner?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to deal directly with IBM?

This is a topic of much discussion around the TxMQ office these days, as it is at other solutions providers. Prospective customers often ask us: If my company’s able to go direct with my manufacturer/vendor (be it IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, or whomever), why shouldn’t we?
It’s a fair question. Companies, especially large ones, oftentimes have multilayered supply-chain relationships for acquiring software, hardware, and talent.
On the one hand, long-standing, embedded relationships often dictate the way a company acquires technical solutions. A friendship nurtured through years of trusted business dealings – sometimes called a “trusted advisor” relationship – may be the perfectly legitimate and ideal way of solving technical challenges. Yet sometimes things change. What happens when your salesperson – the same salesperson who’s covered your company for years – resigns?
Back to the broader topic of direct or business partner: As software and hardware companies like IBM and the other majors evolve over time, their business models push more sales through channel partners. Business partners are inevitably smaller companies, and are typically far better equipped to build and maintain longstanding, deep customer relationships. Sales teams at the major vendors change, oftentimes annually, leading to spotty coverage of accounts, and occasionally even leaving some companies with no direct coverage at all.
Business partners typically offer more consistency and stability of coverage. In addition, as IBM and the majors continue to add layers of complexity to their brands, and shift products in their portfolios, it’s very difficult for companies (and even their field salespeople), to keep products straight.
Surprisingly, this is a knowledge area in which partners tend to excel. Most of the leadership at business partners were themselves former employees of the majors. They left the majors to explore greater freedom to engage with customers, and to build deeper, better relationships over longer periods of time without the bureaucracy that comes with working in a large shop, or the threat of annual account “realignment.”
Also, as solutions offered to customers become more complex and cross over traditional brand borders, business partners are better able to navigate these tricky waters.
Recently IBM, along with other majors, went through internal realignments that left salespeople covering products new to them, and others were shifted to entirely new lines of business. Not so with business partners, who are free to engage as they always have.
What about software and hardware sales? Logic says it must be cheaper to buy direct. No indeed. IBM, as one example, has dramatically shifted internal teams, and reduced field and inside sales coverage to better align their resources with today’s market. What does this mean? It means it’s usually cheaper to order software and hardware from a partner. IBM knows it’s very expensive to have a large, geographically dispersed sales team, and far more cost-effective to let IBM business partners sell more and more software, services and hardware for them.
Partners therefore have full access to special bid requests, discounting, plus any and all sales tools a direct seller has in the arsenal. In addition, it goes without saying that a business partner’s services rates are nearly always below IBM direct rates.
In the end, each company must decide what’s best for itself, but don’t presume that the way you engaged with IBM and others in the past is the best way to engage in the future. A business partner can be your best ally to stay current with technology, and enable the nimble, robust infrastructure your company needs to compete and win in today’s marketplace.
Let’s take this conversation a bit further – email me at [email protected].
(Image by Flazingo Photos)

I'm A Mainframe Bigot

I make no apologies for my bigotry when I recommend mainframes for the new economy. Dollar for dollar, a properly managed mainframe environment will nearly always be more cost effective for our customers to run. This doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions, but we aren’t talking about the outliers – we’re looking at the masses of data that support this conclusion.
To level-set this discussion: If you’re not familiar with mainframes, move along.
We aren’t talking about the Matrix “Neo, we have to get to the mainframe” fantasy world here. We’re talking about “Big Iron” – the engine that drives today’s modern economy. It’s the system where most data of record lives, and has lived for years. And this is a philosophical discussion, more than a technical one.
I’d never say there aren’t acceptable use cases for other platforms. Far from it. If you’re running a virtual-desktop solution, you don’t want that back end on the mainframe. If you’re planning to do a ton of analytics, your master data of record should be on the host, and likely there’s a well-thought-out intermediate layer involved for data manipulation, mapping and more. But if you’re doing a whole host (pun intended) of mainstream enterprise computing, IBM’s z systems absolutely rule the day.
I remember when my bank sold off its branch network and operations to another regional bank. It wasn’t too many years ago. As a part of this rather complicated transaction, bank customers received a series of letters informing them of the switch. I did some digging and found out the acquiring bank didn’t have a mainframe.
I called our accountant, and we immediately began a “bake off” among various banks to decide where to move our banking. Among the criteria? Well-integrated systems, clean IT environment, stability (tenure) among bank leadership, favorable business rules and practices, solid online tools, and of course, a mainframe.
So what’s my deal? Why the bigotry? Sure, there are issues with the mainframe.
But I, and by extension TxMQ, have been doing this a long time. Our consultants have collectively seen thousands of customer environments. Give us 100 customers running mainframes, 100 customers who aren’t, and I guarantee there are far more people, and far greater costs required to support similar-size adjusted solutions in non-mainframe shops.
Part of the reason is architecture. Part is longevity. Part is backward-compatibility. Part is security. I don’t want to get too deep into the weeds here, but in terms of hacking, unless you’re talking about a systems programmer with a bad cough, the “hacking” term generally hasn’t applied to a mainframe environment.
Cloud Shmoud
Did you know that virtualization was first done on the mainframe? Decades ago in fact. Multi-tenancy? Been there, done that.
Reliability, Availability and Serviceability define the mainframe. When downtime isn’t an option, there’s no other choice.
Enough said. Mainframes are just plain more secure than other computer types. The NIST vulnerabilities database, US-CERT, rates mainframes as among the most secure platforms when compared with Windows, Unix and Linux, with vulnerabilities in the low single digits.
I had a customer discussion that prompted me to write this short piece. Like any article on a technology that’s been around for over half a century, I could go on for pages and chapters. That’s not the point. Companies at times develop attitudes that become so ingrained, no one challenges them, or asks if there’s any proof. For years, the mainframe took a bad rap. Mostly due to very effective marketing by competitors, but also because those responsible for supporting the host began to age out of the workforce. Kids who came out of school in the ’90s and ’00s weren’t exposed to mainframe-based systems or technologies, so interest waned.
Recently, the need for total computing horsepower has skyrocketed, and we’ve seen a much-appreciated resurgence in the popularity of IBM’s z systems. Mainframes are cool again. Kids are learning about them in university, and hopefully, our back-end data will remain secure as companies realize the true value of Big Iron all over again.

How it Works: KPIs and the future of your business

How do you measure your business goals?
For some companies, success is measured mostly by profits. For others, the key indicator is customer satisfaction. Some companies measure their success by the success of their products. For each of them, however, there is one guarantee – success is never measured by just one criteria.
Not only is it essential to learn what drives success, but smart business executives must also understand why. That means you can’t just collect data, you have analyze it to learn what the information means to your bottom line. Keeping track of all this nuanced information, however, can become extremely overwhelming. That’s why businesses of all sizes turn to software that collects and analyzes key performance indicators, or KPIs.
KPIs help you monitor and manage the metrics that impact company growth. For example, maybe you’re a retailer looking to boost sales by 10% in Q3. KPIs can be used to help you project how to adapt labor and product costs to achieve this goal. KPIs aren’t just for overall company goals. They bring insight into individuals and departments, too. For example, your social media manager should have a list of KPIs that determine whether or not the company’s campaigns are successful at generating qualified leads. Your helpdesk team would work more productively if they had KPIs that kept track of how quickly and effectively they resolve tickets.
Most likely, your business uses KPIs in some form or fashion, but it’s how you utilize the data that makes the real difference. The whole process can even be automated, so your executives don’t need an IT degree to interpret data. Business activity monitoring tools harness big data analytics to bring insight to a broad range of users, from line-of-business to accounting to administrative. This means easy access for the people who need to apply the data toward decisions that impact the whole company.
IBM’s business activity monitoring solution not only provides you with current data, but it also helps you predict future situations by analyzing potential “what-if” scenarios. You can empower your company with analysis-driven strategies, becoming more proactive and less reactive.
The IBM solution isn’t the only one out there, but what set it apart is it’s flexibility. It works for companies of all sizes—from large-scale enterprises to SMBs. So whether you’re a small retailer looking to bring in more customers or a Fortune 500 ready to start a rebranding process, KPI software solutions can help you transform slow and expensive processes into strategies that help you grow.