IT leaders in this fluctuating and competitive economy need to frequently plan new services, integrate new services with existing ones, secure the corporate assets and administer all of the above successfully. Decisions have to be made quickly and often without preparation - a daunting task especially given the complex IT system of today. Small to Medium businesses (SMBs) and developing countries face additional challenges due to the lack of in-hour expertise and absence of quality consulting services at reasonable rates. Unique automated approaches are needed that play the dual roles of a) educating the users on the complex issues of IT planning, integration, security and administration in the digital age and b) solving real life industry segments.
Our research has concentrated on automation of consulting practices because good consultants play dual roles of problem solvers as well as educators. The main output of this research is an innovative Computer Aided Consulting for IT (CACIT) environment that has been developed by analysing consulting practices (including our own) and utilizing the latest thinking in the field. CACIT (pronounced as kassit), displayed in the figure, currently consists of:
An intelligent decision support system called PISA that uses patterns to quickly build real life business scenarios and then guides that user through IT planning, integration, security and administration tasks.
Computer Aided Strategic Planner (STRAP): The main purpose is to enable governments develop strategic ICT plans quickly and effectively in global settings. STRAP is a main component of the United Nation GAID (Global ICT for Development) initiative.
A comprehensive knowledge portal for entrepreneurship, called GEZA, that provides a set of knowledge services ranging from starting a business to international partnership and outsourcing opportunities.
A powerful industry pattern repository called PARIS that houses business patterns for more than 20 industry segments including healthcare, transportation, retail, telecom and manufacturing.
instead of several disconnected tools that address parts of the problem, CACIT captures the complex interdependencies between the business and technology building blocks of real life situations. The users can directly invoke the needed CACIT services or access them through business games and simulation supported by educational materials (i.e., textbooks and courseware).
PISA, GEZA and PARIS collectively are being used for educational as well as consulting services. Specifically:
Use in consulting practices: CACIT has produced an interesting consulting service that can deliver high quality consultation at low costs to businesses located anywhere in the world, including developing countries. This service can also be used by consultants to remotely offer consultations to any customer anywhere in the world without leaving their desks. More details
Encouraged by our progress (we are working with the United Nations to use CACIT to educate IT leaders in developing countries, we have industrial users and our research has been published in refereed journals), we are aggressively adding more capabilities to the computer aided consulting services. We are also forming partnerships with universities and enterprises around the globe, offering more courses through these services and developing business games and simulations. Our long-range goal is to form a powerful computer aided consulting institute that can be used in developing as well as developed countries.