The curse of the last mile

La malédiction du dernier km
Oops. Gare Montparnasse, on October 22nd, 1895, 16:02pm. Express Granville-Paris.

Like a family resemblance

Determined by historical, practical and economic constraints, the layout of large railway stations in metropolitan areas such as Paris or London, for example, maximizes the speed of the station-destination journey, to the detriment of that of interconnections. It is possible to go from Paris (Gare de l’Est) to Strasbourg in two hours (396 km) but it will take almost an hour to go from Gare de Lyon to Gare de l’Est (about 4 km). And much more if it is raining, if you have luggage and a stroller, or if you are traveling at a rush hour.

You are CIO, technical director, responsible for methods, processes, innovation, operations … that should remind you of something, right? Information systems are also often fragmented, for historical, practical and economic reasons: business applications, partner applications, IoT, connected equipment, web services; without forgetting the business experts and operational staff. It is very difficult to make these different fragments collaborate in the service of a common objective (extended business processes).

Paris système d'information

The last (mile) is the first (cost item)

A quite complete study by the Cap Gemini Research Institute (2018, available here) shows that the last mile is – by large – the number one expense in the logistics chain. We would very likely obtain the same result if we considered other criteria such as transit time, energy used (per kg, per package, etc.), losses and erroneous deliveries, etc.

It is the same for the information system of companies and cities. Hollow: the lack of interactions with the extended environment will limit the value of a new project; its full potential, yet within reach, will remain partly untapped. Embossed: the complexity of defining, developing and maintaining interactions between applications will be the source of significant expenses as well as a growing technological debt which will inevitably translate into rigidity and loss of operational efficiency.

Last mile delivery

How to efficiently interconnect IT silos?

Fighting against the silos within the information system is like Sisyphus’s punishment, as the diversity of business processes, the pressure of business and the speed of transformation are significant. As soon as an integration is complete and already a new application, a new business process, a new partner will arise.

It is therefore rational to evaluate the implementation of a solution specialized in the deployment of interactions within the extended information system. The devil is in the details it seems: here are some questions you could ask before making a deal with him:

  • Can I continue to use my existing applications? Including IoT, web services, business apps?

  • What synergy with my collaborative applications (MS Teams, Google, Slack…)?

  • Are the business processes fast enough? Do they react quickly enough to external events?

  • Can I integrate applications that are not exposed outside of my organization?

  • Will I be able to add applications in the future that I currently have no idea about?

  • How quickly will it be possible to develop the interactive processes that I want to put in place?

  • Am I simplifying the work of the business experts and operational teams or am I transferring some of the complexity to them that they will rightly reject?

  • Is the solution likely to reduce direct and indirect costs? Now and in the years to come?

Applications coeur de métier

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