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Business is Analog, IT is Digital: Making the Connection

DigitalOver the course of the last two decades, the world has seen a steady acceleration of growth in its thirst for information.  The dawn of the information age has brought a new enlightenment to the masses, where the question of if information is available has ceded to the question of where information is available.  Businesses at all ends of the globe are scrambling to meet this demand for information, be it the price of durable goods, stock market data, or what’s new with family and friends.  This growth in need for information has sparked an ever increasing demand for Information Technology professionals, even as the supply has lagged behind.

Until this point, the strategy has been more, more, more.  Hire more Software Developers, hire more Database administrators….More, More, More!  The important question that is only now beginning to be asked in the wake of the Great Recession is: Why not focus on efficiency, rather than unfettered growth?  Instead of focusing on the holistic approach, where any and all feature needs, great and small must be met, mobile applications must be offered, all information regardless of importance must be captured and stored indefinitely, businesses are beginning to realize the need to prioritize and eventually align their Information Technology needs with the goals of the company

Traditionally, Information Technology departments within organizations have been perceived as a black hole, one that can never be filled, despite the large amounts of operating capital dumped into it.  Information technology has to this point, been a necessary liability, required to remain competitive in an ever changing business landscape.  What if the role of Information Technology was not that of a necessary liability, but that of an asset, similar to the equipment used in manufacturing, only instead of manufacturing physical goods, information is manufactured, by processing raw data into structured goods in a way that aligns with the goals of a business?  As no manufacturer would consider purchasing unnecessary equipment solely because a competitor purchased something new and shiny, the same applies to information.

The difference lies in the perception.  With physical equipment, sight, sound, and touch are the clearest indicators of potential.  Inputs can be measured in physical units, and output is clearly visible.  When considering a virtually endless supply of information, the parameters become less clear.  With the right techniques, however, providing a clear path from this endless barrage to a usable set can be achieved by focusing solely on the information that is important to the goals of a business.  Consider an MP3 file played through a mobile device:  When the file was created, the analog sounds of the artist were translated to digital format by storing only enough information to reproduce the original sounds in a manner that is inaudible to the human ear.  The result has been a virtual earthquake as a disruptive force to the music industry.

When considering the use of Information Technology in business, if the same rule can be applied, whereas the translation of the information needs of business to, quite literally, the digital implementation through Information Technology, businesses have the potential to see a similar gains in both efficiency and innovation.  By applying the right mix of Enterprise Architecture processes and practices in conjunction with Enterprise Architecture aligned Software and General Information Technology concepts, businesses can make the necessary connection to realize the benefits of the translation from Business Analog to Digital.

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