Tales from the Field: GigaOm Business and Technology Impact Reports

“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde may have been channeling his inner IT manager when he offered up that famous quote.

The fact is, every IT leader that enters into a high-stakes adoption or deployment of a new technology or tool inevitably wonders if there are “gotchas” or pitfalls that they need to look out for along the way. They are keen to gain insight from others who have been through it already, and to gather best practices that can help them leverage hard-won experience without all the painful mistakes.

Enter the new GigaOm Business and Technology Impact Reports. This ongoing series of case studies examine the experiences of IT practitioners as they face down challenges and strive to adopt and deploy technology solutions. Through hours of exhaustive work and conversations with practitioners in the field, these case studies offer readers the hard-earned wisdom of IT organizations that have “been there.”

“We have a simple rule when we’re writing up case studies, and that’s the first question we ask when we interview: ‘If you could speak to the person you were two years ago, before you deployed this technology, what would you tell yourself?’” says Jon Collins, GigaOm Vice President of Research.

Collins says the primary goal of each case study is to provide familiarization and give practitioners a level of clarity as they embark on new projects.

“We want to make the situation real,” he says. “We seek to understand why a problem was tackled, what options were considered, the steps taken, and the lessons learned along the way. And above all, we seek to understand the results, in terms of what the solution looked like and what benefits were gained, in financial terms where possible.”

Here’s a peek at some of the first Business and Technology Impact reports.

Chain of Demand
In this case study, researchers explore how advanced business intelligence (BI) solutions helped a multi-billion dollar chemical and consumer goods firm adapt its global supply chain to weather disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic. It shows how Henkel AG leveraged a data lake architecture, combined with a secured data access layer, to provide rich dashboards that enable employees to monitor and act on data in real time.

“We found out how this system allowed Henkel to effectively manage the disruption to its supply chain during the COVID crisis,” says Collins. (View the report)

Designing Data
“We were interested in how data is transforming the healthcare industry and spoke to McKnight Consulting Group (MCG) about their work with a pharmacy benefit manager,” says Collins.

MCG needed a data platform to serve a microservice-based data architecture. The platform would also serve as a streaming data engine for real-time integration and processing, as well as formulate a data governance policy.

Figure 1. Data Architecture

Analysts found that data modernization allowed the pharmacy benefit management firm to transform its data use and ultimately improve customer experience. The new data platform also ensures data governance compliance and improves reporting across the organization. (View the report)

Leveraging Low Code
In this study, researchers aim to understand how low code is used in practice. The subject is G&J Pepsi, one of Pepsi’s biggest franchise bottlers in the U.S.. The company used Microsoft Power Apps to create mobile apps that enhance in-store audits to make them more efficient and effective while also supporting the back office.

“We discovered that staff with no app creation experience developed apps in weeks. We also learned how the new apps helped the sales team in the field, and that the program saved the company $500,000 in its first year, and $2 million overall,” says Collins. (View the report)

Work from Home Security
For this case study, analysts wanted to explore how smaller companies were dealing with the challenges of a distributed workforce using edge devices. Of course, so many workforces are now remote due to the COVID pandemic. The report examines the experience of Spin Master, an international toy company with 1,500 employees across 28 global sites.

Spin Master wanted to quickly deploy a secure set of tools for remote working. The company chose a platform from security firm Crowdstrike and managed to deploy a complete endpoint security capability in weeks. This quickly reduced reputational risk and enhanced the company’s network security. In fact, company IT leaders caught a threat on the very first day the platform was in use, says Collins. (View the report)

Real People, Practical Insight
GigaOm will be publishing these tales from the field weekly, providing fresh insight and expanded coverage of use cases to help IT decision-makers as they grapple with new technologies and challenges, says Collins.

“Ultimately, our audience cares about bang per buck and how they can deliver on expectations, and our case studies help them directly towards this goal.”