It’s neither, because it’s both.
As per this recent article in Industry Week that asks top down or bottom up, Continuous Improvement (CI) requires top-down executive and management support, but the improvement itself must be initiated at the ground-level by the day-to-day workers in the plants, the back-office, and the warehouse floor.
The key to improvement is to identify inefficiencies and fixes for those efficiencies. The best people to identify these inefficiencies are the people who use the systems and processes every day. Likewise, the best people to identify solutions are the people who will have to use those systems and processes every day. Although you may need to bring in a CI facilitator to help your teams unlock their creativity and identify the solutions that will improve your operational efficiency, true solutions will come from within.
And even if these solutions cause the organization take a short term hit on the balance sheet or P&L, a true improvement will deliver lasting impacts where working capital, cash flow, quality, and productivity are concerned.
But they don’t always make a lasting impression. So how do you know which ones precede a tsunami?
It’s hard to say, but like a tsunami, the waves are not caused by hot air (wind) but deep movements within the (end) user community (geological effects). If you keep this in mind, it is more likely that you will be able to identify the technology waves that will reshape the business landscape.
And you will be able to make sense of this recent report on the technology waves that are reshaping the business landscape by Accenture. In the report, Accenture identifies eight trends driving the future of information technology. Some of significant, others not so much. Let’s take them one-by-one.
- Application Services as Utilities
One just has to look at the massive success of Apple’s App Store to realize that the end user mindset has shifted from applications as large monolithic software packages locally installed from CDs and heavily supported by local users to to small, point-based solutions, which can be installed from, and live in, “the cloud” on-demand. Where consumers go, businesses, which employ the same consumers, must follow.
- “Social Identities”
Facebook has proven that “social identities” are important to our online society. And with a number of “enterprise” platforms working on integrating social technologies, it’s clear this is a significant shift that will shape application design for years to come.
- Cloud Computing
Amazon, Google, and other big providers have proven that a number of businesses, for better or worse, want to move to “the cloud”. This is another shift that is here to stay.
We’ve been talking about analytics and BI for years, but there’s never really been a sharp jump in demand to identify BI as the next big thing or to indicate that it will be any more important in the year to come than it was in the year before.
- Data Security
Security has been a constant issue for over a decade, and the need for security is no greater this year than last year. And most firms are still of the mindset where they are only going to take this seriously when they get breached.
- Data Privacy
Data Privacy, which was big in the 90’s, thanks to Facebook, is now big again. The widespread, public, backlash to Facebook’s initial lack of privacy, and controversial privacy agreements, has re-ignited the privacy debate across the globe and privacy is now under the microscope again.
Architecture is obviously going to shift as applications move from monolithic software packages to on-demand utilities, but since consumers don’t really care about architecture, it’s going to take a back seat to the application-on-demand movement.
- User Experience
Today’s users demand the Rich Internet Application experience. Thanks to Adobe, Apple, and other companies focussed on the user experience, consumers expect a constantly improving experience. This wave is also growing.
Net result, applications as utility on demand, the cloud, social identity, privacy, and user experience will play a major role in technology in the years to come, but analysis, data security, and architecture, will continue to take a back seat to these more prominent issues.