Enterprise Initiatives

This blog focuses on Enterprise IT topics such as Enterprise Architecture, Portfolio Management, Change Management, Business Process Management, and recaps various technology events and news.

I read this post from Stewart Mader's blog on wiki patterns today and it talks about a challenge to the adoption of wiki is the fact that the new tools are too inexpensive or even free (open source).

Here is a key quote:

Sandy Kemsley’s fourth challenge to social media/enterprise 2.0 in organizations:
The fact that these technologies are inexpensive (or even free) and quick to implement causes them to be discounted by executives who are used to spending millions on information management systems.

Isn't it time that executives stopped running their IT shops like it is 1980? Spending millions on large vendors may make it easier for one to sleep at night, but it is not the best use of corporate dollars. I have been in IT for a long time and I have witnessed the same pattern across several companies over the last 20+ years. The pattern that I am talking about is IT puts more weight on "manageability" then they do on customer requirements. Some shops are so married to big vendors that they are not taking advantage of open source solutions or even worse, they are limiting the vendor selection process down to a set of tools that do not meet the customer's needs. When this happens, IT becomes its own worst enemy. First of all, adoption of tools that the users do not want or do not value as high as other tools can be a major challenge. I have seen my share of shelf-ware over the years. Second, forcing customers into solutions does not bode well for customer satisfaction and may cause the customers to look elsewhere next time. Third and maybe the worst case of all, sticking to the major vendors at all costs may prevent IT from selecting any tool due to high costs or lack of a sufficient tool. To put this into perspective, the user suffers because our favorite vendor can't deliver.

Here is an example. If you look at Web 2.0 tools today, most of the top tools are either open source or provided by startups or companies without billions of dollars in revenue. IT shops who still stick to principles from 20 years ago will simply not invest in enterprise blogs, wikis, and social networking tools. The big vendors either do not have the tools or the tools that they have cost a significant sum of money. Trying to justify spending a large amount of money on better collaboration tools is a major challenge. With open source or low cost alternatives, it is much easier to start small and grow adoption over time.

At the end of the day, we should understand that the reason that corporations fund IT departments is so that our internal and external customers have the tools, products, and services they need to do their job. The world is changing and IT must change with it. In addition to the normal technical requirements (manageability, scalability, etc.), the vendor selection process should consider the following:
  • Buy vs. Build (is it a core competency?)
  • Evaluate open source alternatives
  • Evaluate SaaS alternatives
  • What is the vendor's SOA strategy (integration and agility)
Is your IT shop still stuck in the 1980's? If so, what are you going to do to educate your executive team? Do the research for them and show them where technology is going. The worst thing that can happen is that people will learn something.


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