This concept is related to the amount of information that is daily produced in today’s world and to the fact that for analyzing it there is a need for different technologies from those traditionally used for data management. Gartner defines Big Data as “high
volume, velocity and variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing for enhanced insight and decision making” (Higginbotham, 2014). The demands on the market today make these technologies to be a necessity for the companies wanting to be up to the rhythm of businesses in information age. For that reason, Big Data can be seen more appropriately as “Right-Time Business Insight and Decision Making At Extreme Scale” (Higginbotham, 2014).
There are five essential characteristics for Big Data, known as the five V’s: velocity, veracity, variety, volume and value. This means that a suitable usage of Big Data must bring value to companies, and that value must come from the ability of taking the huge variety of data, the immense volume of it, and manage all that with velocity and veracity.
It is necessary that organizations seek for solutions for Big Data management that are suitable for their needs and their technological architecture. If this is well made, information in no longer a potentially valuable asset and becomes a concrete form of income.
Daniel Schallmo defines business model as the company’s performance, this is, “the basic, underlying logic of a company which describes what benefits are provided to customers and partners” (Schallmo y Williams, 2018). According to this perspective, a business model is related with the way in which the organization displays itself in order to bring those benefits and the way that the same benefits come back to the company as incomes (Id.). For that reason, a business model is what establishes the added value and what gives to that organization a competitive advantage against other companies. A business model in general has these basic elements: customers, service, added value, partners and finances (Schallmo y Williams, 2018).
One of the main methodologies used for designing a business model is the one known as Canvas. This is a matrix in which all the components of the business are plotted and defined and where the relations between them are easily seen. In addition, to make a Canvas also allows us to evaluate the appropriateness of that model and the weaknesses that can be avoided by changing parts of the scheme. Currently, every company needs to include some technological elements within its business model, because speediness in market demands it (Osterwalder y Pigneur, 2010).
This is the main executive authority in a company, and that means that she/he makes the most significant decisions on the performance of the organization:
A chief executive officer (CEO) is the highest-ranking executive in a company, whose primary responsibilities include making major corporate decisions, managing the overall operations and resources of a company, acting as the main point of communication between the board of directors (the board) and corporate operations and being the public face of the company. A CEO is elected by the board and its shareholders (Kenton, 2020, investopedia.com).
A big concern, that has been treated numerous times by academy, is that of the change of CEO in an organization, because, due to the number of tasks that has to assume, when she/he has to give the position to another person, usually there are more risks than advantages seen. For this reason, stakeholders and people in the board usually decide to choose someone with a similar kind of leadership to that of the person being replaced. Today, besides, the qualities of leadership that a CEO must have, including certain charm and the ability to work with great number of people, it is expected that they have a wide experience on the possibilities of Information Technologies for businesses, and that they can apply them properly to the corporate strategy and for the set goals.
This is the person in charge of the informatic management in an organization. This means that they have to design and conduct the strategy that will allow a proper work of the technology within the company. Their task is to look after the alignment of all the technological elements, physical and software, with the corporate strategy, and assure that they are really useful to the company in order to gain value through the speediness of communications.
The role of CIO is different form the IT manager; this last one has to assure that the daily operation is developed properly, this is, to fix devices, solve problems, help users, whilst the CIO is thinking in the general strategy the company will use to take advantage from technology. In the last years, one of the main challenges of CIO has been the management of Big Data:
Now the conversation isn’t about the application and whether the little button is green or blue—the conversation is about the data. Now IT and the business are speaking the same language. The users are much more comfortable talking about data than they are talking about applications, and so they are more willing to talk to IT and engage in meaningful conversations (Barlow, 2014).
For this reason, the role of CIO is gaining more importance, but their responsibilities and demands on them are also stronger. It is expected that today, a capable CIO will be able to manage the technological solutions for the management of businesses, as Business Intelligence or Business Process Management.
This is one of the key processes in business organizations. Continual improvement is a necessity set by the commercial context in which the entity is in, because the environment is what makes the demands regarding laws and standards, which in the end stablish the criteria for the quality that organizations should guarantee regarding processes, products, services, etc. (Sreenivasan y Narayana, 2008). Continual improvement processes are usually related to the ability of the organization to make a monitoring in real time to the actions in the operation and thus improving the quality of the response to customers.
Continual improvement when practiced by an institution/organisation on regular basis in every functional area provides hands-on opportunities for its employees to become team-oriented and acquire leadership qualities. This in turn enhances the worth and value of the entire institution/organisation. Continual improvement gets transformed from the ‘control’ mode to the ‘empowerment’. This empowerment mode attained by an institution/organisation is of much wider and greater significance to the society (Sreenivasan y Narayana, 2008).
Continual improvement is closely related to corporate processes, because these bring a concrete result to customers. To improve in a company means to have process improvements, this is, to use more effective techniques for communication and coordination in the actions within the business operation. It is important that organizations have continual improvement as an essential part of their business’ model, in order to have a significative impact.
This is one of the most used technologies for dealing with the huge amount of data in companies. It is necessary because
today´s digital events are multidimensional. In the former analog world, a purchase event would be recorded as, “Product X was purchased for Y dollars”. In today´s digital world, that same purchase event might include ten additional attributes or dimensions including things like the following: time of day, day of week, purchaser name, discount level, product packaging, product promotion, color, style, stock location, salesperson name, and a listing of all other products in the purchaser’s market basket. Every digital event has the ability to be recorder with dozens of other attributes or dimensions that can shed additional light on the event itself (Golfarelli y Rizzi, 2009).
This implies that information has to be available in a single location to be rapidly correlated and effectively analyzed for decision making. This location is the data warehouse.
Data warehouse is a repository for “historical, integrated, and consistent data” (Golfarelli y Rizzi, 2009), and it is based in the process known as ETL (Extract, Transform, Load). Data warehouses are “currently well established within several medium to large organizations, and it’s widely acknowledged that they paly a strategic role when it comes to providing end-users with easy access to key information that would otherwise be hardly available” (Golfarelli y Rizzi, 2009). For that reason, a data warehouse is a basic technology for the implementation of solutions related to information analysis, as Business Intelligence and Business Process Management, and it’s a part of what is known as supporting decision making systems.
For Westerman et. al, the digital transformation is “the use of technology to radically improve the performance or reach of enterprises”. This means using technological developments such as “analytics, mobility, social media, and smart embedded devices”, and also to improve the “use of traditional technologies such as ERP, to change customer relationships, internal processes, and value propositions” (Westerman et al, 2011).
In other words, digital transformation is a way of allowing the advantages of technology to change the entire behavior of the company in order to make it more effective, fast and trustworthy, and thus to deliver a service or product in lesser time and with higher quality. This process, which was seen at some point as a valuable option for organizations, is today an inevitable necessity in corporate development. Researcher Dobrica Savić states that “introducing mobile applications, artificial intelligence (Al), cloud computing, analytics, chatbots, and other digital services only augments the existing business without changing its essence” (Savić, 2019).
In his opinion, this is more of a digital business optimization than a digital transformation of a business. The real digital transformation changes completely the business model and forces an adaptation of the whole perspective from which the company is run.
In general, digitalization of a business is understood as the adaptation of some aspects to digital formats, which allows the existence of an amount of automation in its processes; this automation is based on computation and information technology. Some researchers, however, understand digitalization in a more specific way:
Digitalization has three distinct phases-the initial phase, when single operations or processes are automated (such as library purchasing); the mid-phase, when related processes are automated and joined together (such as library collection management or supply chain management); and the third, most complex phase, when multiple systems that support business processes and information flows are integrated into library management systems or enterprise management systems (Dobrica Savić, 2019).
From this perspective, digitalization is no other than the automation of all the processes in the company through the intelligent integration of the available technology, through which communication and recording of activities is displayed in a significantly more reliable way. This automation, to be really effective and to fulfill the definition given of digitalization, requires a connection between the processes of the company through a system that integrates them all and coordinate everything in a single global process, which is the operation of the company. This operation, with such connection, assures that customers receive the best answer to their requests and that the products and services have the best of qualities in the demanding market.
It is a consequence of the global informatic web, known as world wide web, which is used through Internet. It refers to all commercial transactions virtually made, without the need of a presential interaction. This has brought what many analysts describe as a complete revolution in the way in which world economies will work.
From the crisis of year 2020 it is expected that e-commerce will exponentially grow and become the new established way of making businesses in the planet. This will bring deep changes in every level of society, because it will affect the means of working, relating to governments, getting education and evaluating the capabilities desired in an employee (Qin, 2009). This comes from the fact that e-commerce.
Breaks the boundary of time and space, alters the trade pattern, improves the circulation of merchandize, capital and information, and makes enterprises have an edge over others as well by reducing the cost of production effectively. In short, e-commerce has enabled the traditional business to achieve greater, faster, better and more economical results (Qin, 2009).
So, there is the requirement for companies to begin thinking about a transition to digital that allows them to maintain their levels of competitivity. The use of IT capable of managing communications with agility, as Business Intelligence or Business Process Management, is a key feature.
These are the steps of an essential process for the management of corporate information. This process begins with the extraction of data found in different information processing systems in the company: costumer communication systems, accountability systems, planning systems, communication channels, etc. From this, all the information in the company, regardless its origin and format, is available in order to make an intelligent and integrated use of it. Then, as the information is set in different formats, a transformation is made for homogenizing data and thus allowing every possible combination, contrast and analysis that could be useful for decision making. Finally, the information already organized and homogenized is loaded in a data warehouse, where it remains available for the needs of the company.
These are the main benefits of this process:
– Removes mistakes and corrects missing data
– Provides documented measures of confidence in data
– Captures the flow of transactional data for safekeeping
– Adjusts data from multiple sources to be used together
– Structures data to be usable by end-user tools
(Kimball y Caserta, 2004).
In general, the ETL process is a requirement in the implementations of solutions for data analyses, such as Business Intelligence or Busines Process Management. Each company must seek for the more appropriate way of doing this process, based on the kind of information used and the analyses required.
It is the collection of tools used for managing all kind of information. Currently, IT is present in every aspect of human life, from daily life of people, their communications and ways of organizing private life, to big communal project management, as States or companies. For that reason, although technology is related primarily with the devices used, the concept of IT also includes human beings, because humans are the species finding value in such information: “generically, we will consider IT to be the technology used in creating, maintaining, and making information accessible. In other words, IT combines people with computing resources, software, data, and computer networks” (Fox, 2013).
Usually, IT is managed through the device known as computer, this is, every “electronic equipment that is capable of running programs, interacting with a user (via input–output devices), and storing data” (Fox, 2013). This means that computers are not only what we traditionally consider to be a computer, this is, laptops or desk computers, but also smartphones, iPod, reading devices as Kindle or tablets, smart watches, etc. These all work through processes receiving income information, processing it, computing it, and then giving back outputs to users.
In today’s world it is impossible for a business not to have a minimum of IT within its processes. For that reason, it is essential to have a clear and effective IT management strategy.
Innovation in the corporate world is the consistent search for new ways of establishing business’ strategies. These strategies come from non-explored possibilities and can be related to customer relations, process strategies, organizational structures, etc. In the last few years, innovation has been attached to technology, because it is considered that there is where the most unexplored possibilities are, and that they can bring huge benefits to companies.
Regarding innovation, it can be talked about product innovation, which is “the introduction of a good or service that is new or significantly improved with respect to its characteristics or intended uses”; process innovation, which implies new improvement strategies in operation activities; marketing innovation, this is, looking for more efficient ways to reach possible public; organizational innovation, in which we seek to organize the parts of the company in a new and more effective way (Mazzarol y Reboud, 2020).
Innovation is searched by many entrepreneurs, but it is also seen with suspicion by many others. The reason is that innovating can mean an important evolution for a business, but it also implies great risks. In general, the advice in an innovation attempt, is to have a strong technological system to give support and a previous investigation on success possibilities.
This means Information Technology Infrastructure Library. It is the name of a group of norms and parameters describing what are considered to be best practices in everything related to with IT management in organizations. Companies in the world seek to adapt to these regulations because they assure an excellent organization of activities, and this optimizes the processes and significantly improve customers’ satisfaction:
The ITIL guiding principles can be used to guide an organization’s decisions and actions and ensure a shared understanding and common approach to service management across the organization. The ITIL guiding principles create the foundation for an organization’s culture and behavior from strategic decision making to day-to-day operations (AXELOS, 2019).
Using ITIL regulations is important because organizations today are almost completely based on IT, and this technology is what establishes how is the performance and service delivery that the company makes. Services, as a matter of fact, “comprise the largest and most dynamic component of both developed and developing economies […], and are the main way that organizations create value for themselves and their customers” (AXELOS, 2019).
This means Information Technology Service Management and is related to the practices, activities and regulations used for IT management in an institution. Usually the ITIL parameters are employed for assuring the best practices in this regard. A more comprehensive definition can be stated like this:
IT Service Management is the planned and controlled utilization of IT assets (including systems, infrastructure and tools), people and processes to support the operational needs of the business as efficiently as possible whilst ensuring that the organization has the ability to quickly and effectively react to unplanned events, changing circumstances and new business requirements as well as continuously evaluating its processes and performance in order to identify and implement opportunities for improvement (Addy, 2007).
The goal of these practices is to make the technology used in companies be really aligned with the business and with the strategies it uses for achieving the set goals. One of the main aspects in ITSM es to assure that technology is used in a balanced way in every aspect of the organization: “the key is to ensure the operational, reactive and proactive needs of the business have equal focus and importance”. Thus, technology in use can fulfill its daily functions, while at the same time it is “actively improving the way in which it delivers its services to the business” (Addy, 2007).
Current market environment is based on information and on the ability for managing information appropriately. The reason is that information and well managed data get transformed into the main element that determines the corporate success: knowledge. Knowledge Management is the collection of practices, technologies, perspectives, used today for extracting knowledge from information. Thus, it is “the explicit and systematic management of vital knowledge and its associated processes of creating, gathering, organizing, diffusion, use and exploitation, in pursuit of organizational objectives” (Jashapara, 2011).
Knowledge management includes using data analysis technologies, but it also includes human involvement, from where the technology is managed and focused for it to bring the best results for the particular processes in each organization. This means that knowledge management is an interdisciplinary field that grows from different approaches.
One of the most widely used ways for corporate knowledge generation and management is data mining: “data mining or knowledge discovery process is similar, including an iterative progression of data cleaning, data analysis, model interpretation and integration of results” (Jashapara, 2011). This technology can be used for exploring huge databases and offering conclusions from the sored information, and for bringing intelligent ways of moving on with the management of the organization.
This is a production method that aims to make business’ processes faster. Lean means that the processes become agile, without surplus and non-value activities. In spite of being a method originally designed for manufacturing processes, “truth is that the lessons learned from this methodology can be universally applied. Lean manufacturing principles can help your business processes gain efficiencies and, as a result, become more effective and competitive in any marketplace” (Landau, 2019, projectmanager.com).
Lean “takes its roots from manufacturing best-practices that were implemented in the Toyota Motor Corporation, such as Just in Time (JIT) management, Quality Management (QM), Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)”. From there, Lean has had an important evolution and has come to be mixed with methodologies such as six sigma or Jidoka (Davim, 2018).
The basic idea of Lean Manufacturing is to identify and eliminate all the activities that are considered to be a waste because they don’t add any value to the processes in the company. With this purpose, a continual inspection is made, on processes, personnel, kind of activities; and decisions are made on how the overall process can be improved and how the waste elements can be eliminated, because, according to many researchers, when this process of inspection in not deployed regularly, there is about 60% of waste activities in business processes. Technology is a key element for supporting these improvement processes.
ML is considered to be the origin of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and one of the basic ways in which it can be understood. Currently it has been established that ML is an autonomous discipline that seeks to achieve some concrete and specific goals that Artificial Intelligence is no longer trying to get because it is pursuing more general and wide objectives. ML can be defined as “a field of computer science that studies algorithms and techniques for automating solutions to complex problems that are hard to program using conventional programing methods” (Rebala et atl, 2019).
The advantage brought by ML are related to the bigger perspectives and to the possibility to work with a much wider amount of information in comparison with human beings: “ML algorithms tend to be more accurate than human-created rules since ML algorithms will consider all data points in a dataset without any human bias due to prior knowledge” (Rebala et atl, 2019).
Some of the main problems of ML, still being solved, are: the ability to classify contents into different classes or categories; clustering, this is, creating new categories in order to include there some objects from the information analyses; prediction based on the classified and clustered information (Rebala et atl, 2019).
This is a methodology for business organization that puts the basis for all the company´s structure on the processes that the entity must develop. It is clearly different from other organizational forms because most of organizational structures are based on the functions and the limits that separate these functions, while organization by processes emphasizes that, in spite of the differences separating specific functions, there is a common factor to all of the operation, which is customer satisfaction, and this factor is materialized in the processed executed by the company. For that reason, organizing the company by processes aims to the integrality of the operation and not to the separation in it.
To lead by processes means to run a company from a structure based on process and not on functions. This aims to solve the difficulties brought by the function-organization, because this one “creates a silo effect within an organization, and this often leads to selfish or self-centred behavior by the management and staff of each silo”. Sometimes this brings “the detriment of other silo’s and the organization as a whole” (Jeston y Nelis, 2008).
Basing the management on the processes unites the operation, because “business processes are the link between all aspects of an organization. Processes are the link between an organization and its: suppliers, partners, distribution channels, products and services, people (personnel), other stakeholders” (Jeston y Nelis, 2008).
This concept refers to all different forms of analyses possible today through information technology, which allows organizations to use all the data produced in its operation for predicting future behavior of market, customers, finances, etc. It is an ability that provides companies with a bigger competitive advantage: “Prediction is power. Big business secures a killer competitive stronghold by predicting the future destiny and value of individual assets” (Siegel, 2013).
Currently, cognitive science has proven that prediction is one of the main and fundamental human abilities, because from it, individuals make decisions and project themselves into the world for building a desired future. Very often, this ability for predicting is based on memory and learning coming from previous experiences. For that reason, being able to access reliable information is essential in predictive process. It is the same for organizations and businesses. Information becomes a significant added value if we can extract from it a kind of learning that is helpful for making predictions for the future of business and for better decision-making in times of changes.
Most of technologies for predictive analyses are based in machine learning, which allows devices to manage big amounts of data (Big Data) and extract valuable information from it for decision-making.
It is a process management technique that allows an analysis of business’ processes from a record of the events taking place daily in the operation of organizations. What it aims is to extract knowledge from that records stored by the systems in the organization: “the idea of process mining is to discover, monitor and improve real processes (i.e., not assumed processes) by extracting knowledge from event logs readily available in today’s systems” (Van der Aalst, 2016).
Another important feature of process mining is that it takes into account the real process and the ideal processes made in the process design as well, in order to contrast them y recognize improvement spots: “process mining is a relative young research discipline that sits between machine learning and data mining on the one hand and process modeling and analysis on the other hand” (Van der Aalst, 2016). From this, it has been established that the three stages in process mining are discovery, conformance and enhancement (Van der Aalst, 2016).
Information thus extracted is of great value for the company because it allows the discovery of the spots where are placed the delays in activities and to recognize the people in charge of each activity and their performance in each one. This information is also an important source of data for the accurate understanding about the way in which the organizational culture is expressed in actions and whether the busines strategy has an appropriate behavior or has to be transformed.
It is a technique aiming to bring a clear idea of what are the steps in a process, and their possible problems, before the process is actually displayed in real actions. In the corporate world it is used to improve the effectiveness of the business operation and for enhancing business’ incomes from the error diminish produced by the previous modelling of processes. In addition, the modelling is useful for checking different strategies that allow to improve processes, so it is also an essential feature of continual improvement processes.
The advantage of having a model of the process is that it allows to have a simplified image of all the activities and their connections, what helps to recognize with greater clarity where to try the improvements. In that sense, a model “a model may be an equation, a diagram, a physical model, a piece of text or any verbal description” (Holt, 2009).
The most popular forms of generating process models are flowcharts, matrix tables and BPMN (Holt, 2009). In spite of the various ways to present models, the most desirable is to use a tool that can show a graphic scheme that can be easily covered by human vision and that managers can use, because what makes a real process to be hard to improve is that we don’t have a complete perspective of it.
This is one of the main functionalities of the quality standards in technology management known as ITIL. Service desk is a development of help desk, used in the 70´s by IBM (Knapp, 2010). The purpose of service desk is to bring support to the quality of communication processes related to customers, through the coordination of processes and technologies used for that task. For that reason, service desk is, mainly, “a customer service organization that contributes to a company’s bottom line by delivering services that meet the needs of its users” (Knapp, 2010).
The basic components of service desk are people, this is, all the personnel in charge of the management of the tools for coordination of processes related to communication; technology, related to the kind of tools used by the company, their quality, efficiency and adequacy for business strategy; information, because through the intelligent use of it, a good service can be brought to customers; and processes, this is, the way in which the activities aiming to meet customers’ needs are organized (Knapp, 2010).
There are different modalities of service desk depending on the kind of company where it is implemented. This varies regarding customers and the way in which processes are articulated between themselves. It is important to make an implementation that can assure that functionalities of service desk are the right ones for the company.
It is a methodology for business’ processes improvement. Its aim is to minimize the quantity and intensity of possible mistakes made in a given organization and, from that improvement, to bring more quality to the processes for them to work more effectively in the achievement of their goals. It is not a methodology as extended as others because it is specially demanding:
Six Sigma is intense and rigorous, and it entails a thorough inspection of the way everything is done. Six Sigma sets ambitious business objectives and measures performance in a way that forces accountability. It doesn´t allow a management team to become complacent, but, rather, it exposes waste that otherwise would remain largely invisible. Six Sigma takes a business out of its comfort zone (Gygi et al, 2005).
The name of the method comes from a statistical variable, called sigma, that stablishes how a given process behaves in contrast to what is expected from it. A poor quality process, not bringing the results expected from it, works at a 1 or 2 sigma level; a high quality process works from 3 sigma on, This methodology establishes that an excellent quality cannot go lower than 6 sigma, and proposes a way of achieving this standard based on the capacity for recognizing the exact causes of the performance that company shows, for then improving them with clear detail.
This is the cyberspace where we can find the huge amounts of information that can be accessed to through Internet. Its development began in Switzerland in 1989, where researchers of CERN institution “created a protocol for standardizing communication between servers and customers” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, britannica.com). In the mid 90’s, WWW had already millions of active users. Since its beginning, WWW has become the basis of most of human social activities.
Currently, technological development has allowed an access to this web through all kind of devices, as smartphones and tablets. For this reason, today, about half of searches in WWW are made through these individual and private devices, and not only through institutional computers or public systems.
The technology of the World Wide Web, perhaps the cultural technology of our time, is invested with plenty of utopian and dystopian mythic narratives, from those that project a future of a revitalized, Web-based public sphere and civil society to those that imagine the catastrophic implosion of the social into the simulated virtuality of the Web (Herman y Swiss, 2000).
This great influence has forced businesses to have their basis also in this information and communication source, and this has radically changed the speediness of their operations and the technological needs of companies. An intelligent use of these tools is a necessity of current market and of the future development of businesses in the world.