Access Strategy Connects Information Supply & Demand

Updated: Aug 31 2004, 05:30am hrs
At a time when a company is no longer confined to managing information resources within an enterprise, an access strategy is a well-conceived approach to connect information supply and information demand. A holistic access strategy simultaneously reduces costs and improves information technologys (IT) responsiveness to business issues. It creates an on-demand, real-time enterprise, one that focuses on growing the business rather than just running it, says marketing director, Citrix Systems Indian Pvt Ltd, Kishore Badami. In an interview with eFE, Mr Badami details the benefits of deploying this strategy to make organisations more efficient and profitable. Excerpts:

What do you mean by an access strategy
In an increasingly complex computing environment, it is becoming more and more difficult to provide end users seamless, secure access to business-critical applications when they need them, how they need them, and where they need them. To meet this challenge, companies must move away from the traditional approach of disparate access methods and move towards an effective and efficient information access strategy. An access strategy is a holistic, well-conceived approach to connecting information supply and information demand - supporting the inevitably increasing complexity at both ends.

Why should an enterprise have a separate access strategy, when theres already an enterprise-wide IT strategy
A company is no longer confined to managing information resources within the enterprise. Besides ensuring sharing of company-wide information, it must also provide its partners, suppliers, customers, and employees critical access to applications, so that the business can drive more revenue. Having a separate access strategy helps in making this possible in a focused, seamless manner. This assumes growing significance in the face of multiplicity of access devices such as personal computers (PCs), laptops, and mobiles as well as abundance of applications built on varied operating platforms.

Why has the world of computing come to such a complex, difficult-to-manage state and how will adoption/implementation of an access strategy address these complexities
We have seen many waves of computing in the past. Each successive wave of computing - mainframe, minicomputer, PC, client-server, the Web, Java, and Web services - has not superseded previous waves but rather has been piled upon the top of what came before. This has made IT infrastructures in most companies complicated and a headache to manage.

Besides, when it comes to solving computing problems, most chief information officers (CIOs) and department heads have traditionally resorted to adhoc tactics rather than long-term, scalable strategies. An affective access strategy can connect two worlds of challenging complexities - the world of heterogeneous applications on one end and the constantly changing world of the user at the other end.

In doing so, an access strategy can save companies millions, drive revenues, improve customer service, increase employee productivity, enhance information security and transform a company into an on-demand enterprise.

How does accessing information anytime, anywhere benefit business
As a key component of any business, accessibility can be the difference between success and failure. As much or even more than product quality, the companys willingness and ability to be there for customers is what sets a company apart from the competition. There can be a high price to be paid by businesses for not being accessible - that is, for not providing flexible, convenient ways for customers to reach you, and for employees to communicate with customers as well as with each other.

In this respect an access strategy makes it possible for branch offices to contribute towards revenue faster. Enterprises can realise the synergies of mergers or acquisitions faster. Information is more mobile and available wherever end users are, regardless of access device, making it more productive and customer-centric. It also helps the IT department in reducing application deployment and overall systems management costs.

How about reducing costs Enterprise access strategy is the only method that addresses the complexity of both information supply and information demand. It delivers a solution that will support the on-demand enterprise as new applications and new ways to access them continue to evolve.

How does access fit into the Indian scenario What are the challenges that you foresee in convincing Indian organisations to implement access strategies
In the present day India, a typical organisation consists of employees, business partners, suppliers, buyers, etc. This expansion of an enterprise, known as the extended enterprise, has given Indian corporates the flexibility to make decisions anywhere, but it has also created more complexity in terms of having to maintain a very complicated back-end infrastructure.

In such a situation, there is a compelling need for a CIO to make information available at the click of a button, and to support the on-demand enterprise by giving employees access to information when it is required, where it is required and on whatever device it is required.

Access to information not only plays a vital role in growing businesses but also in reducing the complexity of an IT set-up which could inhibit growth. It is thus very crucial to have an on-demand access infrastructure for enterprise applications and information when its needed.

Organisations who have adopted the access strategy have yielded immense benefits. Lack of awareness, on a larger scale, is the one and only challenge faced by us in India. Soon, access strategy will be imbibed by all corporates as a part of their IT infrastructure.

Is the Indian market mature for the concept of anytime anywhere access
Today, more than ever, its critical for businesses in India to think about a strategy for information access as important to both their IT and business strategies. Most businesses in India are now progressing toward becoming global, on-demand enterprises. Whether they are expanding product portfolios and geographic reach through mergers and acquisitions, or getting closer to customers by increasing employee mobility; whether they need to streamline supply chains by facilitating more efficient partner commerce or support site-independent work styles with advanced teleworking capabilities - they must provide ubiquitous information access to all their constituent audiences.

An access infrastructure enables them to do just that. Our success in the India market further reinforces the point made above. We have over 700 customers in India today, across all verticals such as healthcare, manufacturing, banking and finance, insurance, etc.

How does an organisation execute an access strategy What are the roadblocks in implementation
Enterprises can implement an access infrastructure in phases with checkpoints to determine if the promised business value is being achieved. Enterprises do not have to rewrite applications or consolidate platforms. It also allows for a repeatable and consistent approach so the enterprise can scale and adapt to the changing business climate. It can embrace heterogenity, yet deliver a consistent access experience with all the complexity hidden from the user.

One way to begin executing is to Webify everything, which gives limited access through a browser-enabled client device, though it doesnt solve the problem of complexity.

Another way of doing it is to outsource it to a third party. But this brings its own set of problems. The control of the whole infrastructure resides with someone else, while you, as a user, have little say in it.

The next approach is to create an access infrastructure for your corporate based on business needs. It includes all the components and provides inter-operabilty and flexibility. As a CIO, you can deploy an access middleware, abstracting the access method from the application, the application platform and client devices.

In this process, there is no need to replace legacy access infrastructure. This way, an enterprise can address the intricacies of both IT infrastructure and information dissemination. Over and above, this solution supports the on-demand enterprise as new applications keep pouring in.

Does this relate to financial gains / improvement in productivity
Over 80 per cent of enterprise IT budget today is being spent for maintaining existing infrastructure. This leaves just 20 per cent for investment in newer technologies and growth. With an access strategy, it is envisaged that this 80 per cent will come down to 55 per cent.

Hence, it will free more budgets to the CTO for investing in expanding their IT infrastructure.

An access strategy can save companies millions, drive revenues, improve customer service, increase employee productivity, enhance information security and transform a company into an on-demand enterprise. An access strategy can facilitate business growth by providing information access amongst employees and partners.