Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? “Slow and steady wins the race”? Econ 101 lectures about economies of scale? Business truisms like “Nobody ever got fired for buying…” (insert any large, established vendor name here)?
Such nuggets of business wisdom seem to no longer apply. Today, in the words of author Jason Jennings, “It’s not the big that eat the small, it’s the fast that eat the slow.” Competitive advantage comes from reworking business processes and service delivery models to improve speed not by 10% or even 100%, but by multiples. Consider:
According to a recent Financial Times story by Lisa Pollack, “A Berlin company, founded in 2013, built an online service that allows new customers to open a bank account in under eight minutes…The company, Number26, has signed up more than 30,000 customers after launching what it deems ‘Europe’s most modern bank account’ in January.”
It’s easy to bash the IT department; to deride it as the land of no and slow, a roadblock rather than a resource, a group it’s easier to work around than to work with when addressing urgent and rapidly changing business needs.
But given the current and on-the-horizon risks of digital disruption of business models (example: one-hour photo shops were a rapidly growing business in 1988, but their numbers have plunged from more than 3,000 shops across the U.S. in 1998 to less than 200 today) from developments like 3D printing, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT), technology is playing a bigger role than ever in businesses of all kinds.
That makes IT’s role more vital than ever. Practices, processes, and in some cases even attitudes need to change, to be sure, but now is the time to engage IT, not hate it. Forward-thinking companies like Nordstrom and Starbucks—while not “technology companies”—are embracing IT internally and externally to improve both operational efficiency and the user experience for customers and employees alike.
According to a recent study by the CIO Executive Council, poor communication is resulting in “a state of crisis between IT and non-IT employees, which could prove disastrous” in the current environment of unprecedented digital disruption.
Writing in CIO magazine, Brendan McGowan details the research findings. IT leaders recognize that building trust and credibility across their organizations is critical, but most acknowledge significant shortcomings in their groups’ communication abilities.
Every large organization—whether a university, business, non-profit, government agency, or other entity—develops processes over time to enable employees to obtain the products and services necessary to do their jobs. But too often, these processes vary based on the service needed, the department that provides it, or even the worker’s location. Employees are forced to navigate a maze of forms, online systems and request processes, leading to frustration and wasted time.
“A unified service catalog provides a single common framework and approach for delivering services across the institution — a one-stop-shopping approach that enables customers to efficiently submit their requests.”
Project glitches—and sometimes even outright failures—are unfortunately common. But they are by no means inevitable.
According to CIO Insight, “45 percent of large IT projects go over budget, while delivering 56 percent less value than promised.” Yet many of the frequent causes of project setbacks are well understand and can be avoided with proper planning and execution.
Based on research compiled by Dennis McCafferty, here are 10 common sources of project management problems, along with guidance on how to avoid each, illustrated with the example of implementing an enterprise request management (ERM) strategy.
The tsunami of change washing over the landscape for CIOs can perhaps best be summed up by the phrase “digital enterprise”—a catchall term encompassing the fundamental redesign of business processes to adapt to big data, the Internet of Things, the consumerization of IT, cloud computing, and other developments.
The movement is nearly universal: in a recent Altimeter Group survey, 88 percent of “digital strategy executives interviewed said their organizations are undergoing formal digital transformation efforts this year.”
And there is no shortage of opinion about how this is reshaping and expanding the responsibilities of CIOs: a Google search for “CIO role digital enterprise” yields more than 920,000 results.
Bombarded by rapidly changing business requirements and frustrated by the constraints of legacy management and control systems, the natural reaction of technology decision makers may be to rip out the big, old platform and replace it with a big, new one. But that isn’t always the best answer.
As Sanjay Srivastava and Gianni Giacomelli write in IndustryWeek (Separating Impact from Hype: How CFOs Achieve Technology ROI), ” A huge, multi-year implementation is no longer the only option available to leverage better technology. In fact, massive implementations can sometimes undermine actual business goals.”
The two authors ask why “so many companies reach the end of a multi-year deployment only to discover they are not materially better off than before, and that the world has moved on to the next big thing,” and contend this is because, in many instances, enterprises “implement a vast array of process and technology improvements rather than surgically target the actual drivers of desired business outcomes.” In other words, firms take a revolutionary “rip and replace” approach to large systems rather than implementing flexible, incremental answers to specific business needs.
“The Internet and e-commerce were major disruptors, but what we’re seeing now is the biggest disruption ever from a technology perspective.”
Those were the words (reflecting a notion previously explored here) of Adriana Karaboutis, CIO of Dell, discussing “what leading the digital enterprise means for today’s top IT executives” at last year’s MIT CIO Symposium. Karaboutis defines the current wave of technology disruption as everything from connected devices (the Internet of Things) and social media to wearables.
The panel focused on two strategies for addressing today’s unprecedented level of technological disruption: embracing digital technology in order to lead the change, and immersion in the customer experience in order to develop customer-centric technology processes.