Shashi Sharma, Director – Advisory, EY, on why CIOs should urge business leaders to implement in-memory computing
Mature organizations face several “data dilemmas.” Firstly, they have huge repositories of data — often in terabytes that have piled up since the inception of the organization. Secondly, they can be under tremendous pressure either to enhance existing data management techniques or come up with newer, more cost-efficient ones, to make sure data is stored and analyzed in the best possible way. In spite of the advancements in hardware technology, enterprise software hadn’t caught up until now. And this has led to inefficiencies, poor agility, and unsuccessful decision support and, ultimately, lost opportunities.
Traditional IT systems were typically created to standardize and optimize business processes. However, with time, company complexity has increased, new systems have been added and, eventually, even maintaining the status quo has become much more difficult. This can create a pressing need to simplify the current IT landscapes (represented in the animation below), and merge transaction and analytical applications into one platform.
The introduction of in-memory computing (IMC) can be an option to address the business need for more flexibility and agility. It takes advantage of significant improvements in hardware (multi-core and massive memory) and software (compression, columnar store and new programming concepts). IMC systems, such as SAP HANA, are creating larger in-memory databases to store and process relevant data in a computer’s random access memory (RAM), creating faster, high-performance transaction processing and analysis.
Seizing the opportunity
With the introduction of IMC, CIOs can help their organizations develop a competitive advantage. They can help transform insights into revenue generating decisions using advanced analytics. This can help leaders respond quickly to changing business requirements and streamline the business flow. With IMC, CIOs – together with the rest of the C-suite – can help organizations achieve:
- Agility: IMC can bring agility that can cause businesses to rethink and redesign core business processes and remove redundant operations.
- Real-time business intelligence: By embedding analytics within business processes and operations, IMC can help organizations generate operational reports almost instantly, and create dashboards and analytics that provide information with the desired levels of detail. By extending analytics to rapidly analyze data from machines, streaming events and business operations, IMC platforms can also be used to generate insights that frontline workers can leverage for real-time decision-making.
- Transformative disruption: By introducing new business models, products and services in very little time, IMC will introduce disruption that can transform organizations and markets.
Implementing IMC in the finance function of heterogeneous organizations with non-integrated systems can help them work in a more agile way, allowing continual planning and with the potential of making near real-time close possible.
Taming the beast
While the introduction of IMC can spike business growth, implementing it requires a radical transformation of the company’s enterprise architecture. Many business leaders can be resistant to rethinking their entire processes including redesign and redeployment. To support the transition, CIOs need to be ready to explain the real value of introducing IMC and of rethinking the whole enterprise architecture.
In addition, CIOs will play a pivotal role in identifying the right technology; explaining its potential to the organization and making it meet business needs. This can take organizations to a new level in terms of efficiency and agility and can also establish the CIO’s reputation as a commercial IT leader.