People Solutions not IT Solutions
© Antoin O Lachtnain, July 2000
First published in Making It Work, Vol 3. No. 6, May 24 2000
IT can revolutionise business. But mostly it doesn't. Most IT solutions don't live up to their promise. Whilst they may be delivered in a methodical, controlled way, they do not result in a solution which really changes the company. The reason is that the IT sector of today is not structured to provide the multi-faceted solutions that are needed to quickly bring about organisational change.
There are plenty of examples. An ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system can change the way a company is run and increase efficiency manyfold by allowing centralised information access and control of processes. But mostly ERP is just used as a fancy accounting system.
A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system can change the way you relate to your customers, by allowing you to treat each one individually, regardless of how many ways they interact with your organisation. But many CRM systems are used as a souped-up contacts database.
More currently, Intranet and Internet web sites can give access to global markets and greatly speed up communication with suppliers, customers and stakeholders. But most web sites are really just expensive brochures.
The reason results are often lacklustre is that IT solutions are often just that - technology solutions -. Companies don't need technology change for its own sake. What they need is change in mindset and change in processes to implement a clear vision. Technology is an enabler.
|To implement real change, you need the following:
In short, companies need Business and People Solutions, rather than IT.
This isn't an easy recipe to bake. Neither a consulting approach (which emphasises customer relationship and requirements and program management delivered on a global scale) nor a product approach (which emphasises standard technology components) will properly fulfill the requirement.
|Two Tier Solutions
In my view, the solution of the future will be provided by a two-tiered IT sector:
Business Innovators will come up with the vision for organisational change in a particular area and the tools to implement it. In terms of deliverables, these providers will provide application software, elearning and training materials and a formalised methodology. They may also provide specialised consulting, especially near the beginning of the project.
The Innovator will work with major consulting firms to implement the vision in a controlled manner on a global scale. The consulting firm will provide the implementation knowledge and program management to use the tools to turn the vision into reality.
In short, the Business and People Solutions of the future will have two parts - the strategic vision and subject expertise on the one hand and the detailed work of how to implement the vision in a particular instance on the other. Each will have a part of the specialised knowledge needed to bring about successful change, and each will be dependent on the other to succeed in the market. The solutions of the future will come about by combining these two areas well.
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About the Author
NUA Ltd is a vibrant, innovative, Irish company whose focus is in helping progressive organisations adapt to the new environment created by the Internet. We have the management/marketing, design and technical skills to truly understand your unique situation, and to translate that understanding into a successful Internet presence for you.
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