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Data Arteries – Enabling Business Strategy Through Information Technology

Regardless of size and industry, every enterprise is dependent upon information technology, and must have a strategy for how to employ it, especially as the internet becomes more pervasive. Information technology strategy is an enabler of business strategy. Not only must an enterprise manage relationships with its constituencies, but it must be able to connect with them electronically through data arteries – information supply, value, and demand chains. The information supply and demand chains are external; the information value chains are internal.An information technology strategy is a special case functional strategy because every function in the enterprise requires electronic information delivery capabilities, and many require electronic process control also. In very large enterprises, strategy may be formulated at both the enterprise and organizational unit levels.As websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Plaxo, and Twitter become more pervasive in business, linkages between application systems and databases and social networking websites will be more important to enable constituencies to communicate both collaboratively and cooperatively. Just as email has become a primary method of communication between enterprises and their constituencies, so will social networking sites especially for advertising and ecommerce.Business intelligence information can be used to identify opportunities for competitive advantage. However, information technology itself can be an enabler of competitive advantage, especially when there are opportunities to digitize products or deliver information products electronically. In such cases, business strategy is inseparable from information technology strategy.Information technology comprises the analytical and operational application systems, databases, and technical infrastructure (hardware and networks) of an enterprise. Not all computer technologies are information based. Computer technology is used for process control applications in special purpose equipment. However, connectivity is essential as applications become more integrated. As digital construction and manufacturing practices develop through such technologies as computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM), the processes, the control of processes, and the products and/or services delivered by processes all rely upon information technology for connectivity.For example, in the manufacturing industry, not only can design and manufacturing work be conducted through integrated CAD/CAM processes with electronic linkages to carriers, such as FedEx and UPS, but the entire project and process management activities can be monitored electronically from ideation to product delivery.Through technologies such as electronic data interchange and electronic funds transfer, data and both digital and information products flow through information supply and demand chains in parallel to material supply and product and/or service demand chains. Within the enterprise, data flows through information value chains from supply chains and to demand chains.Developing an information technology strategy document is essential for describing the requirements and for educating users because:

The impact is enterprise or organizational unit wide and other elements of strategy cannot be implemented without it Administrative activities, such as legal, finance, and human resources, and operational activities, such as research and development, procurement, manufacturing or equivalent, distribution, marketing, sales, and service depend on information technology – analytical and operational systems support both administrative and operational functions The time frames, expenditures, risks, and magnitude of efforts are usually larger and more complicated than other initiatives and must be clearly understood; information technology projects have a tendency to go out of control and under deliver – therefore, contingency plans are always necessary The subject matter can be complicated if not well explained Information technology strategy is usually packaged as a separate but related document to the strategic plan. It is deployed and executed through specific programs and projects that develop new or enhance or maintain existing application systems, databases, and technical infrastructure.Large information technology development projects are usually cross-functional, and may be part of a broader initiative sponsored by multiple functions collectively. Broader initiatives that have information technology components include:

Market research and development Product research and development Infrastructure research and development for processes and information delivery For example – for the development of a:

Digital manufacturing system integrating both research and development and sales and production activities (sponsors: Manufacturing and Sales functions – impact is on Research and Development, Procurement, Manufacturing, Distribution, Sales, and Service functions) Financial, managerial, and regulatory accounting and reporting system (sponsor: Finance function – impact is enterprise wide) Human resource management system (sponsor: Human Resources function – impact is enterprise wide) Sales tracking system (sponsor: Sales function – impact is on all salespeople enterprise wide) Some projects can be solely for the Information Technology function, in which case it is a customer of itself.Steering committees should be established for major programs and projects representing the various impacted functions in order to resolve cross-functional barriers. Major programs should come under the review of a planning and policy committee at the enterprise level.Information technology strategy formulation is a project in its own right at the enterprise or organizational unit level. Very large projects are grouped as a program of inter-related components under a program manager. Projects can be stand alone also. A single project can deliver one or more application systems and related databases and technical infrastructure, or multiple projects may be required depending upon complexity.For example, when launching a new product, it may be necessary to conduct marketing, product, and infrastructure development projects that include the delivery of new systems, and upgrades to existing systems. However, if an addition to the product line is launched at a later time, a new project or set of projects may be required to enhance or maintain the current systems, or even develop new ones.The work breakdown structure for downstream development, enhancement, and maintenance projects decomposes into planning, analysis, design, construction, implementation, and performance measurement phases. The performance measurement phase can be conducted in parallel with the other phases, and each must end with a performance review. A feedback loop to future planning activities must be established so that lessons learned from the past can be reflected in future initiatives.Meeting the cost and schedule requirements is always a major consideration. Hence, “meeting the date” is a frequent requirement for project success. However, after implementation, the scope of what was delivered and its quality is usually remembered more than when. In anticipation of the need to make changes after implementation, an adaption project may be necessary to tune, standardize, and integrate the deliverables.The planning phase is conducted at the enterprise, organizational unit, or program levels for one or more projects depending upon size and complexity. However, each application system and related databases and technical infrastructure is delivered through a project with distinct analysis, design, construction, and implementation phases. Each phase always begins with a detailed planning activity to ensure that resources are allocated appropriately. The work breakdown structure does not preclude the use of iterative methodologies within each phase for rapid application development and prototyping. Development, enhancement, and maintenance of websites can be very rapid, and heavily interactive with user involvement, when the appropriate tools are used.Key questions and deliverables by information technology strategy project and downstream phases include:Strategy project (enterprise and organizational unit levels):Key questions:

How does information technology enable business strategy? What are the investment priorities? Deliverables include:

Information technology architecture (applications, data and databases, and technical infrastructure) High level project phasing and plans Planning phase (enterprise, organizational unit, and program levels):Key questions:

What are the administrative functions’ systems and information needs? What are the operational functions’ systems and information needs? What are the priorities for the candidate analytical systems? What are the priorities for the candidate operational systems? Deliverables include:

Process models Function models Data models Information models Economic evaluation Scope of analysis projects and schedules Analysis phase (project level):Key questions:

How do processes, functions, and systems fit together? How do systems processes and functions relate to enterprise processes and functions? How do systems processes and functions and enterprise processes and functions fit together? Deliverables include:

Functional requirements Economic evaluation Scope of design projects and schedules Design phase (project level):Key questions (by system):

What are the system’s functional requirements? What are the system’s technical requirements? What is the total cost of ownership and benefits (tangible and intangible)? Deliverables include (by system):

Application system specifications Data and database specifications Technical infrastructure specifications Scope of construction project and schedule Total cost of ownership/benefit analysis Construction phase (project level):Key questions (by system):

Is the system being constructed according to design? If not, what change orders are required, and why? Deliverables include (by system):

Tested application system and interfaces, databases, and technical infrastructure Trained users Implementation phase (project level):Key questions (by system):

What are the costs and schedule relative to plan? What is the scope relative to plan? What is the quality relative to plan When will the benefits be realized relative to plan? What adjustments for tuning, standardization, and integration are required relative to plan? What are the current anticipated enhancement requests? What are the current anticipated maintenance requests? What are the lessons learned for the future? Deliverables include (by system):

Working application system and interfaces, databases, and technical infrastructure List of enhancement requests List of maintenance requests Performance measurement report As enterprises become more dependent upon the internet for connectivity with constituencies, it is essential to develop, enhance, and maintain the information technology strategy on an ongoing basis. The strategy must emphasize connectivity through the data arteries as digital and information products become more pervasive.Formulating information technology strategy is an enterpriship (entrepreneurship, leadership, and management) competency.

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What Type of Travel Insurance Is Best for Canadians?

Among the first questions the majority Canadians ask when buying travel insurance packages is “What type of travel insurance do I need?”

It’s a good query, as there are a number of travel insurance types in existence, and selecting among the them all can seem a bit tricky to start with.

Listed in this article, we describe the primary types of plans in Canada, and what types of insurance are best for Canadians.

Single Trip

A single trip policy is suitable for your requirements if you’re intending to travel once inside of a given year. This variety of plan is the most widespread type of plan. Single trip policies only cover individuals for an individual journey away from home.

Multi Trip

If you travel repeatedly each year, it may be worthwhile to buy a multi-trip travel insurance policy. A multi-trip coverage offers insurance for numerous trips in a year. Multi-trip plans often have limits around the time period of trips you are able to make. 15 day or one month trip limits are common, however, some firms let you take as many as sixty days on every trip.

If you want multi-trip coverage, look into the plan perks that are offered by credit card issuers. One of the charge cards you have in your purse could quite possibly maybe even offer protection!

Coverage may include the cardholder’s husband or wife and little ones and can be a great strategy to reduce travel insurance plan costs. Make sure you study the insurance policy and coverage cautiously, so you know exactly what you’re actually getting.

All Inclusive

An all inclusive plan may well be effective for you if you want to have complete coverage. All inclusive insurance policies usually cover emergency medical protection, trip cancellation and trip interruption, baggage insurance plans and health evacuation insurance. Numerous all inclusive insurance policies offer high limits for emergency medical coverage.

The key downside of most inclusive policies is money. You’ll often pay greater than double the total cost of a single trip plan for all inclusive travel insurance plan. If you happen to be paying attention to how much you want to spend, contemplate getting a simple single trip plan, and choosing a supplementary trip cancellation plan. This can help you save a ton of money.

Tip! Make a brief telephone call to your house insurance company to check out if they offer some baggage or personal belongings insurance plan.

Trip Cancellation and Interruption

Trip cancellation and interruption insurance is effective if you’re concerned about the expense to you personally in case your trip is cancelled or rescheduled. These kinds of packages are especially a good choice for trips that are high priced.

Trip cancellation and interruption insurance plans are also a decent option if you are travelling with multiple people, or if you happen to be travelling along with children. Would you want to take your infant on a long voyage if they’ve only developed a serious stomach virus? It happens all the time.Trip cancellation and interruption insurance will let you cancel your trip for pre-specified reasons like illness of yourself or a travelling companion, or work loss.

Always get in touch with your insurance provider to obtain their permission prior to cancelling a holiday. It’s very normal to believe a reason for cancelling is covered under an insurance policy, only to discover out that in fact there’s an exclusion within the plan. You can buy cancel for any reason travel insurance plans, which will let you cancel a holiday for various reasons. These policies generally are somewhat higher priced, but nonetheless they do give you peace of mind.

Top Up Insurance for Canadians

Top up travel insurance is an effective option in the event you already have insurance, but don’t have coverage for the entire time period that in fact you’re away. This type of travel insurance plan is definitely worthwhile in case you have work or charge card insurance which can only cover you for the beginning part of your trip.

Using your primary insurance plans for your 1st part of your journey, and acquiring a top up plan for the rest, might be greatly less costly than investing in a brand-new policy for the entire time period.

Baggage

Baggage insurance protects you and your loved ones in case your luggage is lost, stolen, or rescheduled. The benefit you can get from baggage insurance ranges from about $500 to $2000 per consumer, relying on your plan.

Your home insurance coverage quite often gives you some protection for your assets while you are traveling, but they in all likelihood will likely not cover baggage delays.

Medical Evacuation

Emergency medical evacuation insurance is especially necessary if you’re going on a cruise or if you happen to be paying a visit to a remote location. If you fall ill aboard a cruise, an emergency medical evacuation by way of a helicopter can easily cost $150,000.

Emergency health evacuation insurance can pay for transportation to the closest medical facility or alternatively back to your point of departure. Having said that, all insurance policies call for pre-approval by way of qualified medical expert. While medical evacuation is covered in many medical travel insurance policies, you can buy separate medical evacuation insurance cover plan.

Be mindful if you’re considering obtaining insurance plans coming from the cruise company. Many cruise companies do not include medical evacuation insurance cover plan inside their travel insurance policies.

Pre-Existing Conditions

If you have a pre-existing health condition (including diabetes or alternatively heart issues), a policy that allows for coverage when it comes to pre-existing conditions is a must have. A pre-existing condition is a health problem you might already had when trip started, even if you didn’t have the problem at the time you obtained your insurance.

Insurance policies who will allow for pre-existing medical conditions are typically more costly, nonetheless, at the very least, you’ll be covered in the event you have a medical disaster associated with your pre-existing condition. Any condition that in fact appears from the time you acquire your insurance plan to the time period you begin your vacation can be considered to be a pre-existing condition, even if you didn’t know about it at the time you purchased your insurance plan.

Being pregnant will often be viewed as a pre-existing condition by many travel insurers.

Accidental Death and Dismemberment

Accidental death and dismemberment is a worthwhile type of travel insurance, and is generally speaking (though not guaranteed to be) covered in emergency medical travel insurance policies. This type of travel insurance will take care of you for injuries you get while riding as a fare-paying passenger on an airplane, helicopter or common carrier (a bus, boat, or even train). There’s also a death benefit that is paid out (generally between 10,000 to 25,000) if you pass away on your voyage.

In keeping with its less than lovely title, an accidental death and dismemberment policy can pay you a set amount if you lose an arm or leg (or other part of your body) while on vacation.

Bottom Line

Whatever type of travel insurance you decide on, read your policy attentively before you leave.