We want to thank the team of Deusto Business School (www.dbs.deusto.es) for their support in the preparation and execution of our Book presentation in Madrid last February 23rd. We also want to thank Manuel Escudero and Frank Seeger for their moderation and participation in the round table commenting the Book. In addition, even more important, we thank all of you who came to share with us this important achievement.
We summarize below the main ideas and reflection from our presentation:
Managing IT in a different way: IT journeys instead of IT projects. Longtime, long-lifejourneys, instead of short IT projects. This is our long conversation.
When we talk of the Long Conversation, we are talking of the whole process of living with IT, from its conception, past the point of accommodation and through into the ongoing processes of learning and innovation.
We see it as akin to a biological process. We utilize the terms “growth,” “osmosis” and “adaptation.” The conversation, all the talking and learning, all the workshops, the designations of roles, the committees, and the exemplary behavior of a few key users, become the means by which change is accomplished.
Inside our Long Conversation are waves and cycles of infusion and diffusion. We repeat that we see patterns of osmosis, growth and adaptation. These constitute the diffusion of capabilities throughout the organization (the osmosis factor), the mastery of more sophisticated uses of technological capability (growth) and changes to the business model (the adaptation factor).
The journey with technology is not made by the plan, we suggest, as much as it is made by attention to learning events, knowledge exchange, customs and practices among key users. Good organizations realize this.
We have studied large-scale IT, enterprise systems (invisible software). These systems manage the business processes of most companies, cross-functional processes like financial cycles, sales cycles, purchase cycles, supply chain processes, etc. ES are the backbone of modern businesses. Given their significant scope and complexity, we call them as platforms.
The last two decades, companies have invested billions of Euros (or US Dollars) in the adoption of this type of technology. A study of total costs of ES ownership by the Aberdeen Group reveals that companies with turnovers between $1–$5 billion pay an average of $5,920,785, and companies with turnovers between $50 and 100 million pay an average of $1,081,869 for a complete ES package, which includes the configuration and implementation of software, after-sales service, and maintenance.
We are living in exponential times. New technology announcements every day. This is exciting. In contrast, businesses assimilate technology slowly. How should one cope with that?
Businesses are not able to exploit the full potential of their existing technology before defining and implementing a new technology. We jump to IT project by project like some kind of hyperactive frog and significant amount of IT value is left on the table. As a consequence, IT is underutilized. This happens every day, even in our individual interaction with technology.
As mentioned by Brynjolfsson and Saunders, MIT professors, if all technological progress were to stop tomorrow, businesses could create decades’ worth of IT-enabled organizational innovation using only today’s technologies.
Then, for us, the main priority of businesses today is the value creation from the existing (already implemented) technology through organizational learning and innovation. Executives should milk the current IT platform.
Oswaldo,Peter, Gastón & Ben.