Are we fooling ourselves in thinking IT can be a competitive advantage? Why are SaaS platforms like Salesforce, Slack and Asana so nice to use while Enterprise apps are non-intuitive, hard to integrate and ugly? As executives, why do we struggle to get our systems to be an advantage rather than just something that barely gets the job done?
The question why do we struggle with IT has nagged me for a long time. In the rest of this article, I attempt to pass the blame to anyone other than myself. 🙂
The folks before you had a hand in creating this mess. They probably had budgets that were just as tight as yours. When virtualization came along, they had huge costs associated with making the upgrades. To virtualize you’d want blade servers and software licenses. Neither of these items are inexpensive which is maybe why you’re stuck with old hardware.
With the energy crisis, it didn’t make sense to keep around low efficiency servers. The cost of getting efficient servers may have consumed budget needed for making more strategic changes.
Mergers & Acquisitions
You bought several companies along the way, sold some and the integration was half way done each time. Rather than integrating some units, they continued with their existing systems. Those existing systems take resources away from your shrinking budget that was initially allocated for only your IT.
Management is Gun Shy
So past decisions to “revolutionize” IT cost the company a fortune and then failed. So now, management is fearful of any systems change. Even hinting about change comes with tales of sorrow about that failed ERP upgrade from 10 years ago.
Segregation of Duties, Compliance and Security
Security is super important now. Any unused budget will be spent these days in ensuring your organization isn’t the topic of the 5 o’clock news. While this is necessary and cannot be avoided, it’s still frustrating.
Paradigms Have Shifted
Virtualization isn’t considered new but the jump from physical to virtualized still isn’t cheap. If this shift wasn’t made before your arrival, the budget to do so maybe unavailable now.
It’s hard to get away from mainframes in certain industries. There are conduits to allow delivery of these legacy apps over browsers, but a full replacement is hard. Upgrades and innovations with a legacy system will prove challenging.
Interoperability Gets in the Way.
How do I explain this one? You want to migrate away from a mail solution but it’s integrated with your VOIP and perhaps some custom apps. Changing one component in this set means you have re-integrate both components after changing only 1 of them.
With all these issues, you can spend all your resources in keeping systems running. It’s hard to be strategic when you are always under fire and repairing critical systems that are down.
Need I say more? I’ll leave it to that one word. Budgets.
You don’t sell widgets online
There are new sales models in our new economy. These can be metered pricing, revenue sharing, sales on consignment and affiliate relationships. The accounting for these unique transactions require specialized apps. Bringing these specialized systems under a generic ERP solution may not be an option. So you are stuck using the old customized application until you can build a more modern platform.
I didn’t write this article to depress anyone. If anything, remembering the reasons why we are in this situation may give us clarity. I wrote this article as a starting point about how IT can transform and become powerful. New SaaS options, open source tech and creativity will allow executives to have a great 2016. Join us on the journey by signing up for our IT transformation newsletter.