The Technology Impact on Industries-An overview
By Tim FitzGerald, SVP & Chief Data Officer, EverBank
1) How do you strike the balance between operations and innovation among your IT staff?
I strongly believe in investing in people. They are the greatest asset your organization has. I encourage people to seek personal development and to keep up with current technology trends. That may entail training, conferences, working with mentors, or simply attending online webinars. I also encourage engaging in local community groups. You might be surprised at the number of technology networking, and skillset groups that hold events outside of work. Ex-Tech talks, SQL Saturday’s, etc... I personally like leveraging blog amalgamators, which pull together streams into an easy to consume summary view, so that I can stay on top of technology trends.
Second, I encourage having an up-to-date target architecture that should take into account new technology and trends. That roadmap is used to determine if new project requests are taking us down the right path. It also helps to work in innovative solutions during the project design process, which helps either, automate, or streamline solutions through the use of technology.
You do have to keep the balance of chasing “Shiny objects,” which are newer technologies that have not been flushed out nor have any viable business use cases, and innovative opportunities. We also work with our infrastructure team to have environments available for us to pilot newer technologies. Most vendors are willing to allow piloting of their technology for little to no cost outside of an environment to host them.
2) What organizational structure allows for the best relationships between IT and its business partners?
I would have to say Agile. To be clear, Agile means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, depending on who you ask. The part of Agile that makes it work, is the concept of co-location, getting all the resources needed to deliver against a project or objective, together in a common area that allows the communication barriers to come down. It fundamentally reduces the back and forth communication, that causes cycling delays and misinterpretations. Issues get resolved before they actually have a chance to become real issues. Daily interaction with your counterparts builds trust, as you begin to see co-workers as people, not just roles.
Take the time to clearly define the business challenges you are trying to address and evaluate multiple solutions before you jump in head first
3) How does the advent of latest innovations around Cloud Storage technology impact the industry?
Cloud storage has allowed for the, “pay as you need,” when it comes to storage. Traditionally you needed to forecast your organization’s storage needs, a year plus out, so that you did not make a mistake in buying your hardware, disk, rack size, DR, etc... It also required that you put a large cash outlay up front and then have to capitalize over years to make the expense manageable, regardless if you actually used the disk space. Cloud moves you from CAP EX (Capital Expense) to OP EX (Operational Expense), which allows you to pay for only what you consume.
Cloud storage also has grown its ability to be accessed across more platforms and protocols, allowing it to be almost agnostic to the technology your shop is using in-house.
Cloud storage gives the smaller IT shops access to Bigger IT type tools and capabilities that it may not otherwise have been able to afford in a CAP EX model. It also addresses the need to hire the technical skill sets required to set up and maintain that infrastructure internally.
4) What according to you are the top technology trends that are gaining steam?
AI, Natural Language Processing, Machine learning, Data lakes, Deep Learning, Big Iron to Big Data, Block Chain, Smart Contracts, Crypto Currencies are all trending items. They just tend to trend differently. Certain technologies will trend more quickly in certain verticals. Example: Block Chain will more than likely be adopted in Financial Services faster than in other sectors. It boils down to the problem the technology is addressing and what industries are trying to tackle based on their businesses. A trend like Machine Learning, in my opinion, is really a rebranding of existing technology. Ex-Would you consider deploying Neural Network algorithms for decision making Machine Learning? That’s been around for a long time. To me, the trending is more around where this type of technology is being deployed. I see there’s real productivity gains that can be achieved leveraging intelligent algorithms. Big companies can do well leveraging Big Data, where there is a business need. Smaller companies should make sure they are getting “Small Data” right, before making that investment. For me, the jury is still out on the trends like Data Lakes. I’m still not sold that technology is at a place where is still does not need human intervention to rationalize, define, and derive business based data relationships, to overcome the work saved by not having to apply any structure to disparate data sources. I’m not saying that there are no cases; I am just not seeing them fully in mainstream conversations yet.
5) Are there any other interesting insights you would like to share with us?
Technology is not a universal solution. It’s also not binary in regards to “it works or it does not.” Take the time to clearly define the business challenges you are trying to address and evaluate multiple solutions before you jump in head first. Just because Gartner has a technology in the upper right quadrant, or Forrester’s Wave tool ranks something #1, does not guarantee that it is the right tool to address your business’s problem. Ex- Don’t buy a Big Data solution, when you have a Small Data problem. And remember to be wary of shiny objects…Safe and Happy computing.