See things clearly
The other day, without being too obvious, I was trying to discover what my wife wanted for Christmas.
I didn't have much success. Whenever I introduced clothing or perfume or book titles into our conversation she got distracted.
"Do you think 'Diamonds are Forever' will be on TV again during the holidays?", she interrupted me at one point. And a little later, "On the news it said that astronomers think there could be planets with mountains made of diamonds" - which was really strange because she has no interest in astronomy.
I'm not much of a shopper and, as usual at Christmas, time is running out. Hopefully I'll soon get some inspiration for a suitable gift.
Anyway, last night our chat flashed through my mind for some reason when I read that the diamond company DeBeers has been awarded damages of around £1 million pounds against Atos Origin for breach of contract.
DeBeers sued for £8 million, and won its case; that Atos was liable for delays and cost overruns in an enterprise-wide IT project.
DeBeers was trying to modernise its business because it was inefficient For security reasons it had traditionally operated with different departments working in separate organisational silos. The IT systems had been developed 'in-house', and were often configured specifically for each department. There was no 'end-to-end' system; instead there were multiple interfaces between the legacy systems, and too much duplication.
Atos was contracted to develop a 'software system to support the diamond supply chain management' and also to upgrade DeBeer's existing software systems.
However early on the project fell behind schedule and the software was late. At the time DeBeers expressed unhappiness at this situation. Atos said the level of cooperation from DeBeers staff was inadequate, and the scope of the project had increased beyond what was agreed. DeBeers sued.
The judge found that both parties should share blame for delays in the project, so awarded only a fraction of what DeBeers was seeking.
He concluded that the main reasons for the project's failure were:
Reading the full judgement reveals how the flow of diamonds from mine to market in DeBeers is a much more complex process than we might think.
Once mined, rough diamonds have to be identified, classified and valued in local sorting offices. Then, often at another location, they have to be 'aggregated' - sorted and blended by experts. Highly-trained staff are needed because variations in a stone's size, shape quality and colour mean there are over 16, 000 different categories of uncut diamond.
Managing that sort of complexity isn't easy, and there are seven separate physical processes which take place during aggregation at DeBeers before a diamond ever appears before a buyer.
What is particularly interesting to us here at OBASHI are the judge's remarks in paragraph 14 of the judgement:
"From an IT point of view one of the challenges of the aggregation process was that it required a system that would keep a precise check on the diamonds as they moved through the process so as to ensure that no stones are lost and would provide facilities for valuing the stones (or groups of stones) as they went on - as well as providing a proper audit trail of the movements of the stones."
In other words, DeBeers is trying to understand precisely how its product flows through the assets of the business, and how much the flow is worth.
The Oil & Gas industry has understood exactly how product flows through its assets for decades because it measures the flow of its electronic data every 100th of a second and uses that to calculate the "$ per second flow" of product, that is the lifeblood of its operations.
Nowadays, whatever industry you work in, everything is underpinned by IT. And situations like the one outlined above will continue to happen, and ICT led initiatives will continue to fail because neither client organisations nor service providers can accurately identify how data flows between business assets in a standard way that everyone understands.
The OBASHI methodology solves that problem - but don't just take our word for it.
Furthermore, because our OBASHI technology is based on our 'comparable context' data innovation, which overcomes the constraints of the 'column-to-column' join in the traditional RDBMS, everyone now has the ability to really understand, optimise and monitor their key business data flows. This means they can keep their product flowing better, which has to be good news.....except perhaps for the lawyers.
P.S. I think my wife has finally understood what I've been up to - she's in the shower singing this at the top of her voice.
Phew. What a relief - one CD coming right up!
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