I know things are tough out there. Belt tightening is a fact of life when the stock market is tanking, and the countries financial institutions and major industries are going down the toilet. But the fact remains, that to get through it, companies are going to have to invest something just to stay afloat.
My pick for an IT investment that has the potential to deliver ROI in the downturn and real competitive advantage once things start looking up is predictive analytics. Predictive analytics is a capability based on complex event processing (CEP). CEP takes disparate events from across different processes, and correlates them to patterns. For example, a set of events might indicate that a service level agreement or a compliance regulation is about to be violated. It alerts managers to problems BEFORE they impact the business. While this can have real competitive advantage in enabling managers to recognize and act upon opportunities, it also has great money saving potential in a down economy.
In the economic downturn, as companies need to keep their eye on the ball and do more with less, they cannot afford to spend money is non-value add activities, such as tracking down and remediating system failures which impact the business. In this climate it is even more important to invest in technologies to reduce risk of failure. Predicting problems before they happen, and then automating the solution as much as possible, reducing the time and number of people necessary to fix problems is even more important now.
While CEP is being talked about quite a bit in the press, I prefer to focus on the predictive analytics. In my view, CEP is the means to this ends. Predictive analytics will help companies keep their eye on the ball. Once a pattern is recognized, the system can initiate automated processes to remediate the problem, or alert the stakeholder who can step in and avert the problem before it ends up costing the company money. This capability is useful to all levels of management, from systems management up to business management. Richard Nikula, Senior Corporate Solution Architect of Nastel, defines predictive analytics as "leveraging data to provide context sensitive decisions, or more simply put, applying available information to understand current and future behaviors."
I'm a true believer in predictive analytics. If you can have the system find problems, alert the right person, and even automate some solutions, it will save time, money, avert potential disasters as well as put you in a good position to take advantage of competitive opportunities. And in this economy, it's going to take all our focus and tight management to even survive. We can't afford to make mistakes.
If you want to learn more about predictive analytics, tune into the December 4th webcast: An Ounce of Prevention vs. a Pound of Cure: Predicting and Preventing SOA Problems Before They Happen.