Douglas Zone Douglas Zone Special Projects - Cable & Wireless

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I do not do what I am told...

  • When considering what to say in my first ?Blog?, I was at a loss. As others will tell you, I am quite capable of ?going on? ad nauseam verbally! ? but I am usually too lazy to (or too wary of the Angel --if that is what you call him-- sitting on my shoulder screaming ?have you no shame?!?) to put my thoughts into writing. Still, having gotten that caveat out of the way? here goes.

    I think we should all step back in the Business and Information Technology worlds and ask ourselves ?What is the point of enterprise software?? It is expensive. It never does exactly what we want it to do. And as we have learned from bitter experience, replacing it rarely seems to solve whatever problem or shortcoming we think it has.

    To make matters worse we convince ourselves that the solution we have invested so heavily in must be right (money talks - doesn't it?) and we it?s too late when we find out it isn't (Risk Management systems at banks come to mind?).

    Still, I think the real issue is that, if we?re honest, most of us don?t never really know what we want our enterprise applications to do. But before the all the vendors of enterprise systems in the middle of failing implementation projects assume I am on their side ( I do work for a vendor myself, after all) ? neither the vendor nor user know "what's up".

    I recall 15 years ago ? when I first put in a billing system as a vendor, that we would whisper in the halls how little we actually knew about billing. Funny thing was that the customers came to us for ?best practice?. Thank God for system integrators who literally filled in the gaps in our collective knowledge (and made a few bucks on the side for the trouble).

    And now? I don?t think things are a lot better in 2009. The only difference today is that everybody is a lot more wary. Partly as a result of which many vendors have tried to become systems integrators for themselves (?why let those troublesome SI's live off of our blood, swate and tears??). On that score, I would say having both the system integrator wearing the vendors blinkers is not a good thing.

    Anyway, back to the point: What do we want enterprise software to do for us? Here are three possible answers:

    1. Provide pre-automated, off-the-shelf business processes (the McDonald?s model or, if ?configurable?, the Burger King ?have it your way? approach)

    2. Provide a way to automate existing business processes (The back yard grill model)

    3. Neither

    This Blog is about ?Neither?. I want to really think hard about the role of enterprise software ? and considering as I speak to friends, colleagues and foes to ask you what we can do to improve the situation?

    Douglas Zone
    About Douglas Zone Douglas Zone works as Special Projects at Cable & Wireless
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  • Georg Dr. Panagos
    Georg Dr. Panagos Doug,

    neither: can mean an enhancement of the 2nd: Provide a way to automate existing business processes (The back yard grill model). Meaning the some issues are automated but other are only possible with the machine, otherwise the telcos would n...  more
    April 9, 2009
  • Cheryl A. London
    Cheryl A. London I think Ivaylo Yosifov's comments are spot on. A lot of the challenges that I see are a result of (1) poor or lack of documented business processes and (2) lack of measurement. In response to Doug's question, I'm not sure "neither" is a correct categoriza...  more
    April 10, 2009
  • Youssef Bouguerra
    Youssef Bouguerra We're at the heart of the business/IT alignment question, and I can't agree more with Ivaylo: we, people in organisations, are to blame, not enterprise software. We need to stop labelling major business transformation initiatives as simply "IT projects" o...  more
    April 10, 2009
  • reuben verghese
    reuben verghese Nice topic. Unfortunately the business running the enterprise often does not know what it want to do. Business direction changes frequently due to industry movements and competitive actions. Large packaged enterprise applications that are on multi year ro...  more
    April 14, 2009