19 July 2012

Binary Thinking - a hex on IT management

Why has IT management become so cursed with Binary Thinking?

No. 1: There is IT and there is business


Binary Thinking: Everything that exists within an organisation (strategies, policies, processes, people, teams, assets, budgets, requirements, projects etc) can have a label of "IT" or "Business". Nothing can carry both labels. Organisations need to work hard to make sure all of the "IT" things and "business" things are aligned but merging any of these things would be a mistake. Usually "business" people prevent "IT" people from participating in "business" activities. If "business" people work with "IT" suppliers it is bound to cause problems.

Portfolio Insight: Everything in the organisation is about the business, a subset of these things have specialist IT elements. For example, a specially trained engineer may help maintain some computer equipment but this is a small component of an internal service which keeps the organisation running. It is helpful to break down large teams, systems or change programmes into smaller components to make them more manageable but very often there are much more useful groupings to use than IT and non-IT.

Special Marketing Hex: A new variant of this curse is the confusion surrounding IT spending by the CMO. Most of the posts about this subject suffer from Binary Thinking by insisting that a CIO cannot possibly have any influence over spending which is labelled as "marketing". Thankfully some, like Chris Murphy of Information Week, are willing to challenge. His blog can be found here (with thanks to @ij_cox for sharing it).

Binary Thinking Hex No. 2

Related blog post: Will CMOs Outspend CIOs? Wrong Question

16 July 2012

Organising the service-oriented IT function

This is first of a series of follow ups to my blog post about a service-oriented operating model for IT. These posts are based upon some of my insights and experience of putting this model into practice and I hope they will either help you develop your own thinking or provoke you to share your own ideas.

In these follow up posts I am going to cover:
  1. engaging the rest of the organisation
  2. mapping out the IT value chain
  3. developing the IT bill of materials
  4. designing the IT organisation structure
  5. aligning funding and resources
  6. implementing the change.
Most of the comments and reactions to the original blog post concern organisation so I am going to start there although, logically, it is the fourth step.

8 July 2012

Step away from that corporate app store

The app store concept has become an accepted feature of consumer electronics remarkably quickly. When Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams were writing about producer/consumers in Wikinomics in 2006 major corporations like Apple and Sony were trying to block their customers efforts to open up their devices and add new functions. It was another two years before Apple added their app store into their ecosystem and yet now it is hard to remember not having access to thousands of applications on your smart phone.

The app store user experience quickly caught the imagination of other sectors. When I wrote about the UK public sector IT strategy in 2011 (link to article on PA Consulting site) Apple's success had already made a big impact and, perhaps, the concept is now poised to disrupt corporate IT in the same way. Or maybe not!

2 July 2012

How to organise IT on a global scale

There is quite a lot written about IT consolidation and centralisation.
  • Best practice in business operations includes concepts such as having a "single source of the truth" to help understand and serve customers or make key business decisions. These sorts of concepts imply some centrally managed shared IT.
  • Enterprise architects strive to understand, model and design business structures and supporting IT spanning whole enterprises. IT concepts and technologies such as Service Oriented Architecture and Cloud Computing are justified on the principles of maximising scale and re-use.
  • Procurement specialists seek to rationalise suppliers and consolidate purchases for all categories of spend including IT products and services. Suppliers offer price and other inducements for sole supplier status.
  • For a long time ERP suppliers have promoted their ability to provide a single, integrated solution to the needs of large businesses.

For relatively small organisations a single, enterprise-wide perspective on IT is quite realistic. For large organisations, particularly those which operate on a truly global scale, the reality is a lot more complex.

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