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CIO Review >> Magazine >> April - 2013 issue

Think Differently to Support new Capabilities in a Business Environment

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Covanta Energy (NYSE: CVA) owns and operates worldwide over 40 new generation waste combustion facilities with added benefit of energy recovery, also known as waste-to-energy or energy-from-waste power generation plants. Headquartered in Morristown, the company has a market share of $2.6 billion.

New Technology trends shaping the Industry

There are three current technology factors which are changing the way companies operate and conduct business. They are the consumerization of technology, cloud computing, and social networking. These factors are not necessarily new technology, but they converge more and more to create a significant business disruption. Consumer based technology is changing rapidly, and often applications are designed to only work on mobile devices, with cloud based data, and include a social component. We all must think differently to support these new capabilities in a business environment.

Cost Effective way of utilizing Data is a Must

Almost everything we do in IT is about getting access to valuable information contained in the data we collect. Improving how we collect, manage and analyze this data will provide much better intelligence about our company, translating into a growth enabler. There are many tools that promise success in providing data intelligence, but there is still no cost effective and simple way to do it. The new terminology for this issue is called Big Data, but it goes beyond that. The average company is only analyzing a fraction of the data they have, and most likely not collecting all the data they should be. Solving this problem would enable companies to be more productive, more responsive to customer needs, and better positioned for growth.

Expectations to Meet

Every day, employee expectations of technology are increasing to keep pace with the world of mobile applications. These expectations demand access to large complex data at any time, on any device, and from anywhere in the world. This is all great progress and I believe that it positively contributes to culture, making the world a smaller place. However, it might be happening too quickly. It was not that long ago that a web page that loaded in 10 seconds was acceptable. Today if a web page does not load in one or two seconds on a mobile device, we become impatient and often open another web site. That is a big expectation to meet.
Technology is too complex, and not enough vendors are focusing on simplifying things.It takes far too much time, money and people to implement most solutions.

The bar is set high. Everyone expects every application to look and operate like Google or Facebook. This can be unrealistic and difficult as we know the amount of time and money those companies spend to make things look so simple.
While everyone wants the latest and greatest technology with new capabilities, people are still very resistant to change. Many times it is the technology team that winds up having to push these same individuals clamoring for the latest and greatest, out of their comfort zones and into the future.

Driving Innovation in the Team

The foundation of encouraging innovation is to create a culture that not only allows and supports it, but expects it from everyone. In order to deliver success based on innovative thinking, everyone on the team needs to feel they can think outside the box related to everything they do. It might sound basic, and it is. However we constantly challenge each other to ensure creativity and new ideas are always brought to the table. From the most basic task to the largest most complex projects, there is always a better way to do things.

A Gadget Marvel

I am definitely a gadget lover, but my favorite is my Nest Learning Thermostat. It is like a smartphone and a home thermostat combined into one. Besides being a good thermostat, it does everything automatically and can be controlled over the Internet – so no more forgetting to set the heat or air conditioning. It is a great example of how technology is making everyday tasks easier.