Are you using you IT strategy to set your user behaviour? Or are they setting yours?
With the recent new release of our Strategy4IT IT assessment tool I was discussing with colleagues whether you can scientifically optimise an IT portfolio. The article on my sister blog goes into more detail about how IT organisation can be considered an art or a science – http://www.strategy4it.com/it-portfolio-optimisation-art-or-science/.
The other day someone asked me why we, as a small company, have effectively two brands: one focused on delivering IT strategy assessments and transitions and another similar brand with a cloud focus. The question was, is there a difference and do you need two brands?
Here we go with another organisational analogy, this time, visualising your organisation as being a house made of LEGO.
Typically, there should be large rectangular bricks underlying the business structure as a foundation. The finance systems for example, the payroll, and even the IT infrastructure services, can be visualised as long oblong bricks at the bottom of the value chain, the structure upon which the rest is built. However, it is amazing how often this structure is full of gaps, holes and misalignments. These problems lie in various sections of the business, whether specific locations, parts of the process, or product areas. Naturally, without a solid underpinning foundation, the business will have issues. Like a child building a LEGO house without looking at the instructions, the result may be rather shaky if not collapse entirely. Do you know whether or not your business structure has a solid foundation?
In my previous blog entry, I discussed the need to make time for creating an IT strategy. I have also discussed the need for balance between free, unstructured thinking, and structured analysis. Brainstorming all the possible approaches is a great start, but how should you structure these thoughts into a workable plan with measurable results?
Clearly, in a short blog post it is impossible to set out all the detailed methods that can be used to drive a strategy but I hope this is a useful overview for non-practitioners and a useful reminder to the strategists amongst readers.
Another nod to one of the well-listened-to tracks of my student days, but an interesting introduction to some thoughts on the challenges of today’s CIO.
The song starts:
“Even in the quietest moments I wish I knew what I had to do…”
Now, I am sure there are more than a few CIOs who would wish for a few quiet moments, and still more who wish they could predict what they had to do with accuracy.
What is clear is that CIOs (and therefore also CEOs) are facing ever more challenges of increasing complexity. The entry on this blog this week speaks of quite a number, and still more are discussed in our growing list of previous entries on this blog. For those facing up to the challenges of the IT marketplace today, it is essential that time is taken to examine the trends out there, and engage them actively within an overarching strategy. Sadly, too many executives are too busy fire fighting the challenges of delivering their current projects or ongoing service commitments, to be able to pro-actively plan ahead.
Perhaps this is a mad idea, but I see the decision on cloud like the decision on buying a coffee machine for the office. It is a basic management decision, pros versus cons, investment versus benefit, running cost versus opportunity. Lets use this as a simple example to see how cloud compares to coffee as a service (CaaS if you will).
The other week I was considering if we should get a machine for the office. Lets face it, with the sophistication of the machines available, you can easily invest a four figure sum in a great coffee maker to match the quality of the coffee from one of the big chains. Now add supplies for a year for the whole team. This includes not just the cost of great coffee, milk etc., but all those hidden extras like cups, filters; not forgetting extra work for the cleaner or one of the staff to clean it all; then potential service costs and spares…
Over recent years we have seen a number of trends among large corporations trying to get clarity on their real IT costs and squeeze efficiency from their resources. It is interesting to compare some of the approaches, and how they restrict the value that can be gained.
Some companies tried to ring-fence their IT by creating a management services company, forcing financial rigour on the supply of services. Great idea… or was it? Clearly there were some benefits from the transparency on what was being purchased (at least in theory), but there were also management overheads and investments needed to gain this rigour; it is unclear whether or not these were ever compensated for in efficient savings.
Those that know me well would be surprised to find me preaching about the cloud. However, I am not an evangelist. For me, it is clear that the cloud is not just a trend, but a fundamental shift in the way IT is provided that no business can ignore. So I genuinely believe that every business (however large or small) should be facing up to the challenges it brings.
To do this they should be making carefully considered judgements and rational decisions on what to do and when to do it: setting their strategy and planning for adoption.