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The original SMART system was developed in the 1990s to help computer users avoid unexpected hard drive crashes. In the decades that followed, this idea of ”self-monitoring, analysis and reporting technology” flourished, spreading well beyond the 1’s and 0’s on magnetic disks. The concept — and the lowercase version of the name — is now applied to everything from coffee makers to buildings to sustainability efforts.
Smart devices have easily integrated into consumers’ lives, but companies often work to incorporate this approach into organizational processes and practices. Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning make intelligent devices and systems even more powerful and effective. Complexity hampers organizational efforts to become the intelligent enterprises needed for competition and long-term success. However, best practices have been developed to tame the complexity.
1. Establish guiding principles
Businesses run the risk of wandering aimlessly if they don’t create a map to point them in the right direction. This step is particularly important for intelligent technologies, as they rely heavily on connectivity. A wrong turn can throw you completely off course.
An organization’s guiding principles must include:
construction —Build sustainability into every step of the process; prioritize efficiency in all areas; secure the needs of users; adapting to changing preferences; and engage with the user and the community in a meaningful way.
technology — Secure and protect all entry points with advanced cybersecurity; Learn from data to anticipate user and facility needs and ensure accessibility and interoperability across the enterprise.
experience — Create inclusive persona experiences for all affected stakeholders, from employees to customers and leaders to communities; personalize user experiences; eliminate friction and barriers for users; and create an environment conducive to productivity.
2. Take a systems design approach
Solving complex problems like sustainability requires a new model that takes into account the different systems in which a problem exists. The system design allows you to solve actual problems instead of temporarily relieving symptoms. Businesses can break down problems into their component parts. Large, seemingly unmanageable problems are transformed into a series of more manageable ones. Frameworks then help sort through the tangle of interactions that affect how the whole system works.
In this case, organizations take a holistic view of the systems, processes, and personas that need to be addressed—rather than focusing on individual systems or use cases. Applied system design considers interfaces, architecture, and data points based on problem type and context.
Ultimately, this approach will lead to practical solutions that will be accepted by users and society as a whole.
3. Prioritize privacy
The principles of privacy by design enable organizations to go beyond existing policies and regulations. With this approach, data protection is a key consideration during the design and architecture phases for all business processes, applications, products and technologies. This is particularly critical in increasingly networked systems.
Privacy by design encompasses a variety of concepts, including:
- privacy — Make this the default mode.
- functionality and privacy — Appreciate both equally.
- End-to-End Security — Integrate across the information lifecycle.
- transparency and visibility —Provision for all stakeholders.
4. Define and enforce clear security policies
Similar to privacy, security needs to be considered at all stages to ensure user trust. Security by design offers a way to develop clear policies.
identity services are needed to authenticate users in a centralized or federated model. These foundational services need to cover key stakeholders—employees, customers, partners—and provide flexibility anytime, anywhere.
Zero Trust Architecture is needed to fill gaps in traditional perimeter-based security that was not designed for today’s hybrid cloud and edge systems. This approach enables an organization to apply security controls and audits across all architectural levels and interactions.
Multi-cloud and data security require different tools and strategies. Organizations can benefit from autonomic techniques that maximize security as code, policy as code, and auditing as code.
5. Adopt a micro change strategy
Organizations often struggle with change because the barriers are too high – or at least seem so. However, more agile approaches make more progress than trying to scale a mountain in a single leap. A series of small, irreversible changes can produce compound effects and produce exponential results.
Long-term goals are broken down into achievable waypoints, with employees motivated by nudges rather than nudges. Every success builds on the other. Barriers to change management are beginning to fall.
This philosophy is critical to smart technology and sustainability efforts. The rapidly evolving nature of technology, such as AI, IoT, and cloud, lends itself to smaller and more frequent advances. In addition, sustainability goals tend to be long-term, with many intermediate steps in between.
This strategy can also counteract common change management problems where employee fear and resistance undermine potentially effective plans.
Corey Glickman is Infosys’ Head of Global Sustainability and Design Consulting Services.
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