Speed of Information is Critical for IT and Business

Thoughts on speed and innovation from Gartner IOSS 2016

From the moment respected author Steven J. Spear opened up with his keynote address, a critical theme was put in place at the Gartner IT Operations Strategies and Solutions Summit.

That theme: the need for speed.

I have some economics background, as does Spear, and some of the themes of his talk really resonated with me. Specifically, he tapped into the concept of regression to the mean, the statistical phenomenon that if a variable is extreme upon first measurement, it will tend to be closer to the average on the next measurement. Put simply: extremes average out… eventually.

Steven's presentation was thrilling because it was about those companies whose successes do not revert back to the mean, but instead continue to find innovation and stay ahead of the competition.

I won't re-tell his whole presentation, but the point was simply that knowledge and the speed at which it is attained are the great strategic differentiators that enable continually extremely successful organizations to prosper as others fail.

Steve Spear at Gartner IOMSteve Spear gives the opening keynote presentation at Gartner IOSS.

Some companies are so continually successful that their prosperity doesn't even seem like an outlier anymore. It is easy to assume that Apple will sell record numbers of devices any given quarter, or Amazon will speed up shipping times by an order of magnitude. Those are great successes...but I expect them.

What really struck me was a case study on ALCOA that asserted they were able to drop safety incidents from a 2% rate to .07% rate simply by sharing information faster and more efficiently. When an industry and manufacturing giant makes a change like that purely by accelerating and easing the sharing of information, I sit up and take notice. If the altruism of saving workers from injury isn't enough, they saved millions of dollars while doing it!

Steve Spear performance slide

I attended a couple other sessions on Day 1 here at the conference, mostly focused on DevOps, but the need for speed theme was central to every one. I couldn't stop picturing Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights, saying "I wanna go fast."

The premise of speed-of-information being the great differentiator has crept into IT, and everyone wants to go faster. But the reality is that information speed is relative, everyone is accelerating, and the kind of speeds that put your business in the outlier zone, ahead of everyone else, have been largely unattainable.


IT wanna go fast

Because it is just as easy to run the wrong direction as it is to run the right one. So how can an organization achieve this vision of speed in innovation?

Well they need to start by having a firm understanding on their goals and a way to measure their existing state. Only then once oriented can they begin running in the right direction and gaining speed with confidence.

steve spear expectations slide

This Is Where Wire Data Comes In

It is in this climate that wire data has become such a critical source of information for businesses in every industry. Being able to capture and make sense of all those transactions flowing across their network at line speed and in real time, these companies can understand every aspect of their business from the underlying infrastructure to the touchpoints with customers.

Going back to Spear's opening keynote, we can find two key truths about modern business:

  1. Every worker needs knowledge to be an agent for innovation.
  2. That knowledge has to come fast. Innovation cannot be delayed, but must be enacted in every moment, in ways that build upon and complement each other.

For me, and for the many, many businesses that use ExtraHop as an engine for accelerating the speed of their information and their innovation, this all comes back to wire data. ExtraHop Co-Founder Raja Mukerji wrote about this earlier this week, and these questions really sum up some of the goals of ExtraHop, and the ways companies can achieve the speed they desire: How do I provide all my workers with the views that they need, at massive scale, and not end up waiting for the answers?

The answer is wire data from stream analytics. That's what ExtraHop does.

I'm sure the rest of Gartner IOSS will continue to reinforce this theme: Value lies in knowing everything we can, faster than others, and aligning our activities to innovate, both in in IT and your core business.

When it comes to data sources or monitoring solutions that can help you on your quest for speedy information that can help you innovate, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this solution cover the breadth of my environment or business?
  • Can it deliver the data in time for it to be useful?
  • Can it surface the views all of my teams need to be successful?
  • Is the data reliable and complete?
  • Can it scale as I grow?
  • Do I need a PhD to read the darn thing?
  • And finally, with this data do I have the ability to act and effect change

The reality is that only by empowering all your workers with the right information at the right time can you effect meaningful and predictable change.

Try the ExtraHop Online Demo for a taste of how real-time stream analytics can give you the information you need, fast.

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