Posts Tagged ‘IT Strategy’

You Are Responsible for IT Strategy

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Stefan Dietrich PhD, my IT guru and co-author, has an excellent post on Forbes titled “Why You Cannot Rely on Vendors for Your IT Strategy”. The text of the article suggests a focus on large enterprises with a corporate Chief Technology Officer, but the insights apply to small businesses as well. I appreciated two point in particular; first, he writes that choosing the wrong information technology strategy can be extremely costly. Indeed it can and one of the advantages of being a smaller enterprise is that we need not be confined by outdated legacy systems. But if we are passive in our approach and allow our vendors to dictate our IT strategies to us, then we have surrendered a key source of competitive advantage: the nimble and responsive nature of small businesses. And smaller businesses have to husband limited resources more carefully; we cannot afford the long-term costs of bad IT strategy decisions. The costs of bad decisions exceed the costs of inappropriate hardware and software purchases; the costs represent the lost opportunity and limited alternatives that are the result of being locked into decisions that benefited the vendor, not your business. The second point in the piece that really resonated me was the needless complexity that result from vendor-dictated solutions. Their interest is promoting their offerings, not your productivity.

I recently held a conference call for my classmates from the Owner President Management Program (“OPM”) of the Harvard Business School featuring Stefan as our speaker. OPM is an executive education program HBS offers for founders of fast-growth entrepreneurial companies. The call was organized in response to a query from one of our classmates concerning choices in IT and telecommunications systems. Her message resonated with the class, as many of us has a “me-too” story of frustration with the lack of transparency in comparing IT solutions. Stefan was as candid on the call as he was in his Forbes article. We finished the call with a consensus view that we needed to take an active role in charting IT strategies for our business. Many of us had taken passive roles in deferring to the “experts” only to be disappointed with the outcome. Do read the article and pass it on to others. You will find it helpful in framing your thinking about IT strategy.