The Value of Where

  • October 31, 2011
  • News

Geographic information has many facets but the value for business today is the location, or position on the earth's surface.

Location is meaningful in many ways, such as:

  • The location of assets enables operations, management and planning.
  • The location of events facilitates the same and can predict future events.
  • The location of customers can enhance marketing and sales campaigns, insurance risk management and retail outlet planning.

When location is incorporated into the data of Information Systems, these systems are empowered to provide much more powerful decision support. In fact, location often highlights trends, risks and opportunities that would otherwise have been hidden.

The latent power of location and the business possibilities are what appeals to Natalie Newman. She entered the world of geographic information more than 30 years ago, working with land surveyors fixing the position of trig beacons. This understanding of measurement and geodesy has led to many interesting roles in the world of geographic information.

Natalie established the GIS (Geographic Information Systems) in two local authorities in South Africa. Then the opportunity to don the uniform of the South African Air Force tempted her to take up an exciting role in the Directorate of Geospatial Information. This directorate collected imagery, mapping and hydrographic information for all 3 arms of the forces. This insight into the world of defence could only broaden the view and understanding of the important role that geographic information and location can play.

The turn of the century raised the profile of the telecommunications arena and Natalie joined South Africa's Telkom, where the use of location was utilised for demand forecasting. After moving to the UK, she joined Hutchison3g as their Global Co-ordinator for Location Based Products prior to the launch of 3. She then moved to British Telecommunications where she raised the profile both inside and outside the organisation by establishing a GIS Focus Group right across the whole BT group.

Working as a Spatial Consultant with Netezza reinforced her belief that wonderful opportunities exist for location to add substantial value to all levels of information. Operations are empowered by knowing where to function. Management is informed with reporting that shows where the successes exist and where improvement is required. Strategic Planning is supported by intelligence that reveals where trends occurred and predicts where the next activity could happen.

This small piece of information, describing the location, has the potential to be a major contributor to the value of both Information and Business Intelligence.

1 Trig Beacons – A term describing control points with a fixed position (calculated with trigonometry) and used by further surveys as an accurate reference point.

2 Geodesy - The science that deals with the measurement and representation of the earth.

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Visualisation and Business Outcomes

  • October 27, 2011
  • News

David Norfolk has responsibility for Development and Governance at Bloor, and these came together this quarter with the release of his report on MID's Innovator for Business Analysts, a flexible modelling tool for the business analyst role (distributed by Aptero Solutions). This, at one level, is a OMG BPMN tool but it is more than that. It supports a lot of what business analysts need to do to optimise business process (not just the drawing of diagrams) and, most importantly, helps them to communicate this to all affected - and to achieve the buy-in needed if change is to be effective.

He is now seeing an increasing focus on developing automated business services, measured by success in achieving business outcomes rather than just developing computer systems. At IBM Innovate this year, for example, IBM's product pitches uniformly stressed the business outcomes achieved instead of merely technical victories. He thinks that modelling is a key facilitator for this. Managed properly (which means giving people different views into a single model, as appropriate to their needs and experience), models provide a 'lingua franca’ for all the stakeholders in a development, from both the business and technical communities. More than this, if (as David believes) good governance includes the effective management of IT resources to deliver business outcomes, modelling helps to deliver this.

Incidentally, David also writes about mainframe technologies – because (whatever is fashionable) these can be an efficient way of delivering automated business services without wasting the planet's resources. Besides, he says, "I've been hearing about the imminent death of the mainframe every year since the mid-1980s – as it is still here, it must be doing something right!"

Modelling is really part of visualising the complexity of the real world in a way that helps people to manage this complexity. This probably goes along with David's other interest in photography as a way of highlighting the simple patterns and beauty present in the real world, which people look at every day but seldom 'see', in any real sense. He talks of "beauty in the mundane" and "going beyond the obvious", both important if photographs are to be more than records of pleasant times and postcards of pretty scenery or pretty people. He recently gained his ARPS distinction with the Royal Photographic Society with a panel of 15 abstract and semi-abstract prints illustrating the beauty that can be found by the road warrior in conference centres and hotel lobbies – according to the chair of the assessors, probably a first for an ARPS topic!

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Bloor Welcomes New Analysts

Bloor is very pleased to welcome Natalie Newman as an associate analyst, Paul Bevan as a practice leader, Owen Ashby as a research director and last, but not least, Kevin Borley as an associate analyst.

Natalie Newman

Natalie Newman – Senior Analyst – Focus Area: Geographic Information

Natalie has been involved in GI all her working life, from South Africa's Surveys and Mapping (Trig-Survey) in Cape Town to BT Global Services in the UK.

From the mid 80’s to the mid 90’s, she implemented GIS in local authorities with an organisational structure to support both the operations and the data. Local Authorities in SA manage utilities so this included electricity, water & sewer network and roads management.

As a GIS Consultant and Project Manager, serving mostly Government customers, Natalie was one of a 3-man team who initiated geographic information collaboration between three Government departments just after the 1994 democratic election in South Africa. This collaboration is now in place between Surveys & Mapping, Statistics South Africa and the Independent Electoral Commission.

Natalie served in the South African National Defence Force as a Staff Officer (Lt Col) in the Directorate of GeoSpatial Information (DGI) collecting information for all arms of the forces and formulating policy with respect to resources, standards and priorities.

In the UK, Natalie was the Global Co-ordinator at Hutchison3G for Locations Based Products and then joined BT Global Services. She established the BT GIS Focus Group and worked on various projects mostly in Local Government. Since leaving BT, she has worked as a Spatial Consultant for Netezza.

Paul Bevan

Paul Bevan – Practice Leader – Focus Area: Services

Paul has had a 34-year career in industry and started in logistics with a variety of operational management roles. For the last 26 years he has worked in sales and marketing in the IT industry, covering everything from mainframes to personal computers, development tools to specific industry applications, and, predominantly, over the last 10 years, covering IT services and outsourcing. He is also a non-executive director in an NHS Primary Care Trust.

Paul is particularly interested in the impact of IT Consumerisation, Virtualisation and the emerging, if somewhat over-hyped, world of cloud computing on both business users and IT vendors. His mix of business and IT experience, allied to a passionate belief in customer focus and “grown-up” marketing, has given him a particular capability in understanding and articulating the business benefits of technology. This enables him to advise businesses on the impact and benefits of particular technologies and services, and to help IT vendors position and promote their offerings more effectively.

Owen Ashby

Owen Ashby – Research Director – Focus Area: Marketing Solutions

Owen has spent over 20 years in Sales and Marketing with 17 of those in the IT and Technology sector.

His career started with BT and its early forays into SME Telephone Account Management; a time when fax machines were considered cutting edge and mobile (then portable) phones were the size and cost of a small bungalow.

7 years at Unisys saw progression through the ranks of sales and marketing and through Unisys' journey from Mainframe giant to Intel and MS innovator with its then revolutionary Es7000 technology. More recently Owen was a founding Director of Think Smart, an innovative and thought leading strategic sales and marketing consultancy. It developed robust and industrialised (repeatable and scalable) processes to reduce the cost, risk and time of either entering new markets or up and cross selling into an existing base.

Today, Owen likes to be at the cutting edge of thinking around sales and marketing and is fascinated by the "blank sheet" that the post-recession era presents along with the incumbent questions and challenges it poses for those that operate today in the IT and technology space.

For Bloor, Owen specialises in Marketing solutions. His work is focused on differentiation in maturing marketplaces and assisting organisations with models for gaining and retaining strategic competitive advantage.

Kevin Borley

Kevin Borley – Associate Analyst – Focus Area: CIO

Kevin Borley is a career CIO and joint founder of “The CIO Partnership”.

For the past 30 years Kevin has been in the forefront of corporate IT management and has had responsibility for both strategy and service delivery in senior IT Director and CIO roles. He has also managed delivery across a wide and diverse range of businesses in Europe, the USA and Asia-Pac. He has extensive Board experience and has also held membership of a number of senior CIO advisory panels and best practice forums.

Kevin’s has built a successful management career with blue chip multinationals, such as EMI, Thorn, The London International Group,and worldwide withGranada Group Plc, Bertelsmann Buch AG (Book Club Associates), Syntegra (the IT services and consultancy division of the BT Group). Recent SME / mid cap experience has been gained supporting Business Exchange plc, MWB Group plc., The Shaw Trust and Employment Opportunities.

His management experience includes mentoring executive and operational managers, management of business change programmes, IT planning, support for M&A and divestment activity, re-vitalising underperforming IT organisations, outsourcing and in-sourcing programmes,  management of service providers and management of off-shore software development programmes.

Raised in London and having travelled and worked extensively abroad, Kevin currently lives in Wiltshire.

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Telling The Story

  • June 25, 2009
  • News

Without context it is impossible to understand anything: we can write or speak about the details of a product but without the contextual setting for that technology it means nothing and has less relevance. What is required is to understand technology in the context of the business problems it addresses. This is what Bloor means by "telling the story".

However, that is not the whole story. Typically, products within a market do not encompass the requirements of the whole of that market but tend to have specific capabilities that make them most suitable for one or more sub-sectors within that market. In other words, in order to understand the whole story about a product or technology you need not only to understand how that offering resolves the business problems that it addresses but also the market context within which that set of business issues is relevant.

Moreover, this higher level context may not exist in isolation but itself may represent a subset of an even higher level market sector. In other words, there are a series of sub-domains whose story needs to be appreciated in order to provide a full contextual picture. As an example, a product within the analytic appliance space needs to be understood not only within its own context, but also as a type of data mart offering, as a subset of data warehousing more broadly and, ultimately, as a form of data management.

Further, products do not exist in isolation but are used in conjunction with other technologies in order to provide a solution for the user. It is therefore important to understand what synergies exist across adjacent product segments. For example, our appliance will no doubt work in conjunction with business intelligence tools of one sort or another, and with both data integration and data quality tools. In order to tell the whole story of a product it will be necessary to know the complementary nature of these relationships.

Telling the whole story is not, therefore, simply about understanding a product and technology or even just about how it resolves particular business issues. It is instead about the overall context within which that technology resides.

Finally, there is the question of how the story is told. There are several aspects to this. The first is that markets, domains and technologies have their own terminology and nomenclature. Defining these provides a frame of reference for the story being told. Secondly, the human brain is not actually very good at extracting meaning from information (according to research, around 8% is captured) nor in retaining that data (87% is lost within a month, without reinforcement). For both of these reasons it is important that the story needs to be told in a clear and distinct manner that eliminates extraneous information and focuses on what is important. Thirdly, markets and technologies do not stand still but change over time, and the whole story must encompass this fact and evolve in lockstep along with the elements that the story describes.

IT is complex and constantly changing. It is essential to "tell the story" effectively if everyone is to optimise the considerable investments they are making. This applies to vendors and users alike, and to both IT personnel and business executives. The story needs to help vendors build the right products and communicate their value to the right people. It must support those making buying decisions (whether in IT or at the business level) in finding effective technology and solution-based investments and, where decisions are led by IT management, then engaging their business executives in the opportunities and value that the investment offers. Finally, the story must resonate with the wider audience of staff, investors, shareholders, partners and so forth, so that everyone can understand its value in their own terms. Throughout history story tellers have communicated the essential information that has shaped our society, so in this ever more complex world what is more vital than "telling the story"?

The story continues ...

Plus, we have launched our new IM Blog and Security Blog.

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Photography from Bloor

  • June 23, 2009
  • News
At Bloor we are focused on telling the whole story and this transcends our daytime job. Many of our team enjoy capturing a story in pictures outside of work and we run regular competitions to support them. Below is a selection of the most rece... Continue Reading Photography from Bloor