Home Latin America 2004 Information as a strategic asset in a pervasively connected society

Information as a strategic asset in a pervasively connected society

by david.nunes
Samuel Xavier Issue: Latin America 2004
Article no.: 15
Topic: Information as a strategic asset in a pervasively connected society
Author: Samuel Xavier
Title: Country Manager
Organisation: Brocade, Brazil
PDF size: 160KB

About author

Samuel Xavier is Brocade’s country manager in Brazil. Before joining Brocade, he worked for Symbol Technologies as Channel Development Manager and was responsible for the implementation of the company’s Global Partner Programme in Brazil. At Storagetek, as Channel and Marketing Manager, Mr Xavier was in charge of the channel management and marketing. Mr Xavier served previously as the Marketing Manager at Intercomp. Samuel Xavier earned his degree from Brazil’s Fundação Getúlio Vargas – FGV, where he specialised in software engineering and industrial marketing.

Article abstract

A company’s most important asset is often the information it has amassed, not buildings or machines. Enterprises deal with huge amounts of data, far more than can be dealt with without tools. Technology, historically, has come to the rescue. In the past, writing and printing helped us record and store information. Today, computers, storage devices and communications systems allow us to safeguard, process and disseminate the information and in doing so increase the value, through use, of information assets.

Full Article

‘Time is Money’, is a phrase we have heard for years. It means we cannot move slowly, we cannot waste time, without losing an opportunity to do business – to pay our way. It means there is no time for long, evasive, inconclusive discussions. It means we need answers quickly, if we are to get it right – and on time, to be a success. Failure is not an acceptable option at most companies or for most professionals, and this is true everyplace around the world. We all understand this. Still, this emphasis on resolving things quickly raises some questions: how can one do things quickly, but intelligently? How does one prioritise the tasks and determine what has to be done first? How can one be sure ones decisions are the best, will work, and are efficient? What is the best and fastest way to communicate decisions to all involved? What information should we use, and how can we use it? How can we quickly and efficiently take advantage of a situation? Certainly, these questions have driven the work of hundreds, or even thousands, of executives and business consultants, at companies of all sizes. The answers to these questions can be found by focusing upon the two pivotal factors in each of these questions – information and communication. Information We receive such a huge amount of information that much of it is well beyond our ability to digest. Are you able for example, to relate to your work colleague the contents of an entire edition of your favourite daily newspaper? The biggest news stories, and the issues and topics that interest you the most, would be clear and fresh in your mind. Nevertheless, an enormous amount of information would never be told and lost forever. What about the e-mail you receive each day on your computer? How many invitations, ads and e-mails do you receive? Can you remember? How many of the emails you need to respond to get lost in the shuffle? How much of the information in this article will you be able to absorb? How much of this article will you remember tomorrow, a week from now or a month? To help our rather limited memories, and our rather limited ability to deal with massive amounts of information, to memorise, we have long used cutting edge technology to come to the rescue. Writing was one of mankind’s earliest triumphs, and printing enabled us to disseminate the information we recorded. Over the years, the centuries, we have developed, and continue to work on technology to overcome the limits of our minds and memories. Today, data storage devices enable us to rapidly access massive amounts of information. Many words related to today’s memory enhancing, data storage and manipulation, technologies have been included in the daily vocabulary of technology professionals and non-professionals alike. Terms such as gigabytes, terabytes, petabytes, exabytes are now coming into common use. Also common are terms such as millisecond and nanosecond, which describe the timescale needed to retrieve and manipulate data. We are getting accustomed to expect delays measured in these exceedingly short time frames. Can you imagine yourself waiting 20 minutes, or even five minutes, at an ATM to withdraw money, make a deposit or check your balance? Even 30 seconds seems to be an eternity, nowadays, when dealing with such a device. For this to happen, IT companies have invested billions of dollars in non-stop research and innovation. Nowadays, we have become accustomed to technologies, concepts, and solutions that we had not even imagined five years ago. High performance, high capacity disk drives are capable of storing decades and decades of information that can be accessed at the click of a mouse. Today, we can rapidly access and obtain what, until recently, would have been unbelievable amounts of information. Assets, such as tables and chairs, or even cars and trucks, are not what move a company; what moves a company is information. What moves a company is information that is available at the desk in a few seconds after it is sought, so we can make informed, accurate, decisions. Today, information is so vital to a company that it has motivated a complete change in corporate behaviour in relation to technology. After 9/11, companies are reconsidering how they deal with backup, restoration, ‘mirror sites’, and disaster recovery systems. As a precaution, companies are duplicating their vital information at different sites to prevent the loss of the years of information should disaster strike. We know ‘Information is Power’, but simply having information is not power, it needs first to be used, to be transferred – at anytime, from anywhere – to where it can effectively be put to work. Pervasive connectivity – communication, the transmission of data – is the key to turning information into power. Let us change the saying: information is power, if shared efficiently. Communication An expert on foreign languages once said that seven years of uninterrupted and direct contact is needed to communicate perfectly in any language. The means of communication is also vital; the information may be clear, but it needs to be transmitted rapidly, in logical sequence and without error. Imagine that it 6:00 pm and you are at the office finalising a sales report so it can be sent to company headquarters in another country. As you finishing the report, you see that the network has slowed, making it impossible to send the file. You call the network administrator only to find that a three-hour long backup procedure is responsible. You now have a full report – good information – but without communication, you cannot close the cycle and put it to use. To make it possible to send data under any circumstances, communications and information technology suppliers offer numerous connectivity alternatives. The networks are faster than ever and WLAN (wireless local area networks) and WWAN (wireless wide area networks) that provide long distance communication are becoming more and more common. The security of data, as it travels through a network, is now one of the biggest corporate concerns. In addition, the sheer volume of the data companies generate and use makes it necessary to use complex, extremely sophisticated, systems to hierarchically classify the information and file it in an optimised variety of storage devices. Today’s leading corporate networks connect to high performance storage networks, or SANs – Storage Area Networks. These networks, dedicated to data storage, improve network performance by avoiding data transmission bottlenecks. Servers, disk subsystems and tape libraries are shared through fibre-channel switches. These switches rapidly and securely access stored data to make it available as needed. If the network stopped by backup processing, discussed above, had been linked to a SAN, (Storage Area Networks) the files could have been sent without a problem. In a SAN, the backup process would have run in a completely separate environment. Today, larger users tend to be experienced and aware of the concepts discussed above. It is a basic tenet of every company that its operations must be managed efficiently. Equally basic, is the principle of prudent investment; nothing is acquired without first analysing the cost / benefit ratio and the projected return on investment. Information storage and management – the storage and management of an intangible, nevertheless highly valuable asset – must also submit to scrutiny, due diligence, and meet the requirements of prudent investment. Investments in the management of strategic information are among the most important a company can make; the analysis needs to be detailed and precise if it is to assess properly the benefits that will accrue in the coming months and years. Due to the massive education efforts of ICT vendors, and – at times – sad past experience of the users, the market today is much more mature. Technology provides tools that multiply the reach and impact of our creative capacity and our intellectual accomplishments. Technology multiplies our physical and intellectual capabilities and allows us to build new value in our daily lives and in our businesses. The technology that manipulates, enhances, analyses, moves and saves information, gives us tools that are among the most powerful our society has ever developed. Time may be money, but money is only a symbol that quantifies the results of our efforts. In today’s information society, our best efforts are truly bound in the information we amass. Information is the one asset that is never diminished and is, indeed, increased by sharing. Consequently, pervasive connectivity to information is the best way to increase the value of this most important asset.

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