Solving Management’s Disruption Dilemma— the Blended IT Strategy

Part 3 – Blended IT - The steady track—transforming systems that support operations

There are a number of reasons internal-facing applications “the back office” can and should take a less rushed, more risk-managed approach to changing systems:

  • First, there isn’t the same urgency as with customer-facing applications. Internal demands and user do not require the interface experience one finds at Facebook.
  • Second, these systems are often integrated tightly into disparate operations of the firm from sales, through WHS compliance to accounts.

To be most efficient any new system needs to be capable of continuous updates to stay abreast of competitors and consumer demands. Refresh cycles using Cloud computing are near immediate. Real data changing and uploading available to all who need access, at their point and time of need. No delays, no requirement to adhere to ‘office hours’ and no require

In this article, sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise; The Economist Intelligence Unit & JGID proposes an alternative to an overnight, all-or-nothing approach: blended IT. This is a dual-speed approach that supports a period of coexistence between the old and the new systems—giving Management the time and resources to manage the dilemma of disruptive change.

Many of these internal systems are housed on legacy technologies - proprietary and sometimes purpose-built systems that now need to communicate directly with the latest hand held field devices. While often maligned by digital proponents, many of these systems are doing their current jobs very well, are understood by their users, and are relatively immune from hacking and cyber-attacks. A Cloud based system allows Management to continue using large parts of the existing IT infrastructure yet handle the administrative functions at a state of the art level that keeps the business at the forefront of the market.

This “coexistence” will allow a period of cultural transition—training, repurposing of employees, recruiting—that is required to transform people.

One target for a blended IT approach are the monolithic enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, which exist in all businesses under a variety of descriptions. “The traditional concept of end-to-end services like ERP (i.e. Excel spread-sheet planning & scheduling systems), reduces agility and the ability to compete,” says Alan Boehme, chief technology officer and chief innovation officer at The Coca-Cola Company. As a result, he is leading an effort to break up—but not scrap—his company’s legacy systems. “Smart companies are not talking about replacing their entire systems. They’re modernising specific portions of them through SaaS (Software as a Service),” such as JGID (Just Get It Done).

In other words, these systems do not remain static, but instead, change is measured, sequential, and managed for risk. The steady track allows for a sequence of orderly transformations—Quoting, scheduling, compliance, job management and invoicing—in order of impact and ease of implementation. Finally, a practical result is that the IT department can pace itself and not be overwhelmed in the course of an over-accelerated transition.