CEO Speak

Transparency

Issa Elkhoury sat down with Srinath Alamela, to chat about making CSAT results public extending transparency.
 
Issa, let us chat a more on transparency?


 
Sure Srinath - Do you want to talk about transparency in performance measurement?


 
That is a great place to start. You know we piloted it internally in Product Development and it has borne great advancement for us. Our HR complaints have been trending down and in the last 2 years, I have had zero escalations.
 

Yes Srinath. That is quite remarkable and what a monumental shift from where we were before 2008.


 
What that has also done Issa is that it has given me and you free time to do what we should be doing, streamlining policies and planning for future.

 

True. Before we embarked on this journey, we were spending way too much time in execution. That is definitely been a direct benefit of transparency. What else do you foresee?


 
What do you mean?

 

I mean can you talk about our plan to publish customer satisfaction surveys on our website?


 
Sure.  I think our industry is way behind B2C in having publicly available ratings. Why don't we take the leadership here?

 

Aren't there risks with it?


 
Of course there are. But also note that without risks there are no returns. I am not even worried about that. I am worried about quite the opposite.
 
 

Which is?


 
What happens when you hide stuff?

 

You mean other than mistrust?


 
Yes other than mistrust. What do our parents and other elders say about hiding things under the carpet?

 

Oh yes the dirt never goes away. The best thing is to not have carpets.


 
Precisely Issa. In the context of customer satisfaction, the internal pressure on you is always there to improve and get better, if there is no proverbial carpet. The Amazons and Yelps have changed buying behavior.  Of course I am not saying the five star rating is always reliable in commerce sites for many reasons (such as fake reviews), but in our case it is Kosher as we have been diligently conducting it for while now and we do not hide customer names, like we demonstrate on testimonials,unlike some of our competitors.  

Yes Srinath. This is the next logical step. It will not only set the new standard but also help us get better.  So when will we be publishing them?


 
Pretty soon Issa
 
 

Great. Once it is done we go back to IPA?


 
May be - but for sure one day!
 
    


 

The three T's - Transparency, Trust and Teamwork

Issa Elkhoury and  Srinath Alamela, CEO at Triniti Corporation take a break from data quality to discuss about The three T's - Transparency, Trust and Teamwork.
 
Srinath - I hope you had a good new years and also enjoyed your IPA's?


 
Yes Issa.  Thank you and hope you had the same.  Taking breaks are always good.  I did enjoy the IPA's but also mixed it with some single malts and bourbon.

 

Interesting - you know we should talk at length some time about IPA's, malt whiskey and bourbon. But today I want to talk about Teamwork - are you ready?


 
Yes Issa of course.  Teamwork is critical to success in any effort.

 

So what makes people feel like they are in a team?


 
That is a loaded question Issa - many things and perhaps may different ways.  If you google "how to build team chemistry?" you will get a ton of hits.  I have looked at it differently and will ask you the negation - what would prevent teamwork?

 

Lack of a common goal?


 
Sure.  That is the most essential attribute.  Is that all?  Once again all the experts cite common goals - but beyond that they all differ on which methods work and which do not. And I have rejected these methods because I have felt they are dependent on people.  Can you  team up with someone, who you do not trust?

 

Certainly not. You and I have been a team for more than 19 years - but trust is the cornerstone for it. Now that you mention it, I am looking back at how we have been able to sustain that. We have been through so many ups and downs, fought legal battles, downturns, desisted unethical business practices and relationships, but our trust has been intact. But going back to people can you not make the argument that it was still "people" - you and I.  You know we had some bad apples.

 
Yes Issa - you are right.  I am as proud of it as you are.  In the process, we also made sure that we did not compromise on our core principles of integrity and our commitment to employees and customers.  We have always put them first, ahead of our interests.  Our common goal and vision was exactly that.  It is also the people, but we need a method which forces the "wrong" people to exit the team, rather than drag it down.  So you need a mechanism to build the other block - trust.  If you have a common goal and you trust a bunch of people then team chemistry automatically builds you do not have to force it.
 

Yes we did. Even in the most troubled times we did not miss payroll even though we had to put back money to do just that.


 
So what did we do to build that trust?  Would it have been possible if we had hid things from each other?

 

Certainly not. It would have fostered total mistrust.


 
So there you go Issa - the most important attribute building trust is transparency.

 

Agreed. Should we summarize it as the three T's? Transparency leads to Trust which leads to Teamwork?


 
Nice.  The three T's.  I will add that transparency also includes all the good you do.  It is important that your partners in any shared initiative know that so that they do not take you for granted.  In fact it is transparency that allows the bad apples to fall off as they are forced to being transparent and they are not comfortable doing that.  Transparency also fosters recognition of common goals as in you are not saying one thing while covertly trying to achieve something else.
 
 

Yes Srinath. I agree. We need to be transparent on all accounts. Now I also can relate to what Sanjay Bhatnagar said about our all hands meeting "I have never seen this kind of transparency in any organization".

 
Indeed Issa.  Let us conclude with the three T's:  Transparency, Trust and Teamwork.  It is simple - but not easy.  It takes time and effort but the principles are simple.  If you do not compromise and persist it works!
 
 

On that note, IPA's next?


 
Perhaps :-)
 
    


 

Genesis of ADM

Gaurav Jain sat down with Srinath Alamela, CEO at Triniti Corporation, to retrace the genesis of Application Data Management (ADM) at Triniti. Triniti is a pioneer in ADM. Through its Consulting and Product offerings, Triniti has been helping businesses achieve significant value from their IT investments for the last 18 years.
 
Tell us a little bit about how Triniti embarked on this journey of Application Data Management


 
It all really started at Lucent Microelectronics in 1995 when Issa and I were involved in the global Oracle ERP implementation. Lucent had multiple legacy systems – ‘Class A’ for Bills of Materials (BOM), URB for Routings, TOM for Planning, Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) Workstream and Process Controls for transactions. They did not have an ERP system  to bring all of this together. Joe Fornadel and David Wilson managed the Supply Chain, Planning, and Manufacturing functions. They understood and practiced the assignment of  Ownership, Accountability and Responsibility for data in their Legacy systems. 
When Lucent decided to implement Oracle ERP, they found that the notion of Ownership, Accountability and Responsibility for data was missing in Oracle.
Triniti took on the challenge to bridge this gap.
It would certainly not have been an easy feat in 1990s. How did you do it?



We integrated all their systems with Oracle making it the system of record. We developed GPS (Global Product Structure) to integrate their Item Master, BOMs and Routings into Oracle  ERP. GPS did not have a visual representation and was very specific to Lucent’s requirements. We later built it by building a framework and called it TPM (Triniti Product Modeler). It is  our flagship product in ADM space. Initially, TPM did not have workflow. They were added later to make it a comprehensive ADM tool. Other clients such as Silterra, Sony and Qualcomm helped us refine the product further. The turning point was really when Sony semiconductor decided to use Triniti’s Workflow over Oracle Workflow and TPM as their MDM over Oracle PDH.
Now, we are leveraging the same capabilities to be able to manage Customer, Supplier, Employee, and GL data for Oracle users.
Being a pioneer, you had to start from scratch. What guiding principles did you set for yourself?



Good question.
We started with a few simple guiding principles only; the acronyms and the tools came later.
a. There are no shortcuts.
b. Maintain quality data at the atomic level.
c. Worry about the details and you do not need to worry about the summary.
d. Data Governance (Ownership, Accountability and Responsibility) should be in-built.
I am sure there were many challenges along the way. Could you talk about the major ones?



The biggest challenge, as always, continues to be Change Management - Getting people to believe in the idea and agree to adhere to the process discipline. We have been fortunate enough to find some great partners/clients along the way who are visionaries and realize the need. 
Internally, the biggest challenge for us was to resist the temptation to take the easier way by compromising on the guiding principles. In a few instances, it also meant leaving money on the table.
How do you feel now that you see the market realizing a need for Application Data Management a decade after you built the product?



I couldn’t be happier. My happiness stems not by seeing it as an ‘I said so’ moment; rather it is from the satisfaction of knowing that businesses are realizing the importance of quality data in their business applications. And more importantly they are looking for the right solutions.
The need for this has never before been this pronounced. Data has been rightly placed front and center with Big Data, xaaS and the like.
We will still have challenges as the big vendors once they sense the demand will ‘claim’ they have an ADM offering. So we are very aware and are working aggressively to educate on the lessons learnt by customers on poor offerings in the past by the large vendors. In fact Gartner recommends specifically that prospective ADM customers are served better by Triniti and similar vendors.
In context of application data, you use the term TRAC. What does it actually mean?



TRAC is an acronym that we coined to define what quality data means. We wanted to make sure that all aspects are covered and are well understood.
It stands for Timely, Reliable, Accurate and Complete.
T(imely) – No latency. Transaction is created in the system at the time of the business event.
A(ccurate) - Data elements are correct. And if the elements are driven by business rules or policies, then the components of business rules or policies should be captured. These should in turn derive the correct value for data element.
C(omplete) - It has 3 dimensions: All underlying details should be captured, Eliminate aggregations in modeling; Enforce discipline in capturing all elements
R(eliable) - Timely, Accurate and Complete data over a period of time makes it Reliable
Arranging them to spell TRAC - as in your data is on TRAC(K) - was intended for easy recall.
What lies ahead for Triniti?



Exciting times! Specifically relating to ADM, Gartner’s IT Market Clock shows that ADM is in the Advantage stage and the next Market Phase (Choice) is ~5 years out. With established products up and running for more than a decade, we are positioned well. We will continue to focus on our strengths and will continue to seek visionaries who want to keep their data front and center of their strategy.
We have been working on new offerings for a while now including EBS lifecycle management, Regression testing as a service, and business process analytics – all with the singular focus of giving businesses using Oracle eBusiness suite an easier, efficient and effective way to manage their application data. We have had good success with the same and if ADM is an indication then we will be ahead in the other areas as well.


 

Garbage In Garbage Out (GIGO)

Issa Elkhoury sat down with Srinath Alamela, CEO at Triniti Corporation, to discuss about Garbage In Garbage Out (GIGO) problem.
 
Srinath, you and I have forever heard the phrase Garbage In Garbage out (GIGO) - do you still think it exists?


 
Issa, I think you know the answer to that!.

 

Sorry man I was being facetious?


 
I have known you long enough Issa - no worries. But you do bring up an age old topic. Why do you think we still have not solved the problem?

 

I thought this Q&A was that I ask the questions and you answer - but anyway let me take a crack at it. People, including yours truly, usually think that if we ignore unpleasant things then they will somehow magically go away. But sadly that does not happen - and that I think is also true of GIGO - what do you think?

 
Partially Issa. I do not believe everyone thinks that ignoring the GIGO problem will make it disappear. I contend that they do not perceive the problem accurately. While I concede that some problems do go away (as they say Time is the greatest healer), but that certainly is not the case with GIGO. If you do not solve the underlying causes, they will fester. As a wise eccentric man once defined "Insanity" as "Doing the same thing again and expecting different results".

Agreed. So while the industry has focussed on making prettier presentation layers (you see new tools in the market continuously - Tableau etc), you really do not see much in fixing the plumbing layers. Why do you think that is the case?

 
You make an interesting point Issa. As our friend Stephen Ibbitson says, you can have the most expensive Faucet - but if the water is dirty, you still cannot afford to drink it. To answer your question - I think it is because ironically, keeping data clean is a dirty job. You must also remember that there are quite a lot of tools in the market that cleanse data and give this perception that you can solve the dirty data problem with "Data Quality tools".

Do you think the tools that cleanse data work?


 
Yes, No and finally NO. Yes, because they are effective in cleaning the data. No because they do not solve the root cause. In effect No - because it is the classical case of whack a mole!.

 

So, what does one need to do?


 
I think you need both. Because you have bad data to start with, you need these tools when you recognize the problem. So while you need the medicine to fix the bad data, you also need the vaccine to prevent it from being created. Then you really solve the problem.
 

I guess that is a good way to look at it. Do you want to talk about the Vaccine?


 
Next time Issa - now it is time for an IPA or a Pilsner and chat about the possibility of controlling Fusion and harnessing it as the silver bullet. :-)

  


 

Clean Data & ADM

Issa Elkhoury sat down with Srinath Alamela, CEO at Triniti Corporation, to discuss the concept of Clean Data, and the issues surrounding it. Srinath has long been a proponent of clean data, and it is surprising that it is still a challenge in this day and age of high technology. Triniti is a pioneer of Application Data Management systems (ADM), and this is part of its product offerings and consulting services. This discussion will help users to understand the importance and necessity of ADM.
 
Why do applications need application data management systems? Isn’t this duplicated functionality which already exists in the business applications in use today?


 
Applications in general and ERP specifically were not designed to address the data cleanliness issue. They do validations for referential integrity alone. They assumed that data would be entered accurately which is a very poor assumption. In other words you could not enter a receipt of a purchase order if the purchase order did not exist but they paid no attention as to whether the purchase order used is the correct purchase order, or whether the purchase order itself is correct in the first place.

Complex user interfaces coupled with many choices, fields and buttons make it extremely easy for users to make errors during the data capture process. ERP systems were designed to support multiple diverse industries so, in general, an individual business is overwhelmed with functionality and data elements that it does not need. When Lucent decided to implement Oracle ERP, they found that the notion of Ownership, Accountability and Responsibility for data was missing in Oracle. Triniti took on the challenge to bridge this gap.

What does a company lose by not managing its application data? In other words, if I’m not managing the data that was in the application, what problems would I see?


 
At an abstract level there are two fundamental problems that you would see
  1. Downstream operations will be severely impacted. For example, if the order capture process is not accurate then the shipping process would be impacted.
  2. Reporting would be a big chore and a common symptom that you would see is that there will be human report writers generating reports for decision-makers and executives to review. The manipulation and clean-up of the data needs additional costly manual effort and, in addition, there is a loss of confidence level in the data.

What causes these problems?


 
These two problems or symptoms that we have talked about are caused mainly because the data capture process within the individual upstream systems is not robust. I will illustrate what I mean. Let us go back to our order capture process. If the requested date of the service or the product is incorrectly captured then your delivery is on the wrong date and will cause a customer service incident. This also has an impact on the reporting on the financial effect as to when the revenue will be recognized. If you tell me that any user can make an error entering a date, my response is that there are ways to minimize the chances of an error happening. With the correct user interface, assignment of roles, audit tracking, field level control for updates, you can prevent most errors.

How does application data management solve this problem?


 
Application data management solves this problem in three broad ways
  1. It provides accountability and ownership for data elements. In MDM (Master Data Management) terms you can refer to this as “Governance”.
  2. It ensures that all data is captured in a structured form within the application. In other words there will be no unstructured data in the application that would be used for downstream consumption.
  3. It generates dashboards that demonstrate the accuracy of data. In MDM terms you can reference this as “Stewardship”.

How does Triniti application data management provide these features?


 
Triniti application data management is built on a platform that provides the governance and stewardship of application data. This is different from the workflow that you get from the ERP application itself. Triniti workflow is designed to assign accountability at the user level and not at the role level. Additionally, it also provides a framework to put in contextual validation that is only valid for that particular organization and for that particular business process and for that particular role or user. Usually, these business rules are often encapsulated not with the application but within a user document. With Triniti application data management now you can make it a part of the system. Finally it provides an easier UI so that the user makes fewer mistakes.

In summary, if you manage application data using Triniti application data management then your data is accurate and reliable in the database, which helps you have seamless downstream operations and instant and 100% reliable reporting for effective decision making.


 

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