Sunday, 23 November 2008

Managing Enabling Technology

This Southbeach model shows an impact analysis for using Technology in business. Reading from bottom left (Technology) to top right (Increasing Profit), we can see a chain of useful and harmful effects as the intended results of automation and combining information in new ways to create new capabilities and business oportunities have their shadow harmful consequences of loss of control, information overload, and increasing cost and complexity resulting in risk of technology outages.

There is a significant management overhead for all enabling technologies. Additional risk management erodes away profits still further, whilst the use of technologies like Business Intelligence to find correlations in market indicators through data mining and provision of multi-level active drill-down reports for management to make sense of the increasing information overload permits evidence based decision making at the highest level in the organisation.

New business opportunities are identified and this often results in yet more technology to overcome the limitations of previous IT systems, and restore control to the business so that opportunities can be properly exploited.

This represents an interlocking of two evolutionary systems in an organisation; the business, and the Information Technology. They enable each other. The boundaries become blurred with time, and the politics of deciding which side of the fence to pitch your tent increase as the cycle of improvement on one side amplifies the other, and technology and business change fall out of sync resulting in solutions that were intended for one purpose being used for another, or investment being targetted at exploitation of existing technology beyond its capacity to support the growth in demand from the business.

Managing enabling technology requires a thorough understanding of both the business and the Technology, and a foot in both camps. In today's world, neither can exist without the other; Building value with business-led inovation requires a supporting culture in the people and a collaboration rooted in relationships built on trust.

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