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Mission-Critical Applications Require Mission-Critical Leadership

Organizational structures become obsolete just like the technology that they manage

Organizational structures become obsolete just like the technology that they manage. Management structures must be reviewed and replaced just like systems, software and technology - especially in mission-critical applications.

In the last decade or so, more organizations have declared their various communications-based information systems as "mission critical" to the organization's success. Having a mission-critical system requires having a mission-critical mindset when it comes to organizational leadership.

It has been reported that one in three applications are considered "mission critical" by organizations. This means that the organization is dependent on that application to sustain its viability. It is predicted that this dependence will grow to one out of every two applications being mission critical by 2015.

That being said, is the management in these organizations focused on the same criticality that the applications have within the framework of these organizations? Based on some of the people I have run across in mission-critical settings, I would say management is misdirected.

Where Is The Sense-of-Urgency in ihe Managing of These Apps?
As soon as an organization's application is deemed as "mission critical" certain things have to happen.

First, if it is mission critical, it better be totally backed up. Redundant systems as well as redundant networks need to be put in place. If you claim to have a mission-critical application and you don't have it totally backed-up, you are in for a rude awakening when the application crashes and you have no immediate back-up system to switch out to. Your business may even fail to a point of no return.

Second, the administration of that application has to change. Anyone in charge has to realize that this is the lifeblood of the organization. This is how the organization makes money and sustains its viability. Whether it is an online ordering system or a call center, it must have an atmosphere focused on customer service and quick response to those customers.

An application has to be aimed at a perfect level of service every time it gets initiated. There's no room for errors or slow response. Think about a 911 center. You call and expect an answer in one or two rings.

Could you imagine hearing a recorded message saying you are 56th in line and we will be getting to you in the next 15-20 minutes? That is totally unacceptable and as more people start to utilize smartphones for every type of application, they are going to have high expectations that the response is going to be immediate. A sense-of-urgency is needed to be assumed by all levels of management.

More Smartphones Mean More Real-Time Response
Many applications are focused on utilizing smartphone technology to accelerate sales, customer service, and other functions that are quickly becoming a marketing must have, instead of a hoped for, in electronic commerce. This demand is affecting the way people design and implement systems.

Mission critical means more money when it comes to designing, implementing and maintaining operations of a system or a cloud-based application. There are no shortcuts to quality and some in management have to learn this concept.

Executive management in all organizations has to adapt to this new challenge. They also need to review what types of people they have and if they can handle this new market of both demand and response immediacy.

There are two types of people in organizations - cattle and catalysts. The cattle just sit around and graze on their donuts and coffee while the catalysts are busy trying to figure out what to do next in being flexible and adaptive to the changing dynamics of the market.

The catalysts will continue to have jobs, whereas the cattle will be eventually sent out to pasture.

•   •   •

Copyright 2013 - James Carlini

More Stories By James Carlini

James Carlini, MBA, a certified Infrastructure Consultant, keynote speaker and former award-winning Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University, has advised on mission-critical networks. Clients include the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, GLOBEX, and City of Chicago’s 911 Center. An expert witness in civil and federal courts on network infrastructure, he has worked with AT&T, Sprint and others.

Follow daily Carlini-isms at www.twitter.com/JAMESCARLINI

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