8. Think small. Jon Derome, program manager for business applications and commerce at Yankee Group, says he is seeing a shift in technology investments away from traditional large-scale enterprise software categories to what Yankee calls "edge-of-the-enterprise" technologies: customer- or supplier-facing solutions that allow a company to make incremental gains in service, collaboration or integration as a way of achieving competitive distinction.
9. But don't forget the grand strategy. Advises Tom Velema, senior manager in the Supply Chain and Collaborative Commerce Practice at Deloitte Consulting: "You can't start by blocking out the sun — you need to have specific pain points in mind that you can resolve — but you have to think about the big vision, too." That's key to building a technology infrastructure that both meets today's requirements and is flexible and scalable enough to meet tomorrow's needs as well.
10. Stick with standards. "Consider the dedication of your company and industry to technology standards, whether it's nitty-gritty standards like J2EE or industry initiatives like UCCnet or RosettaNet. If you can encourage your company — or even be so bold as to encourage your industry — to leverage those kinds of standards and take advantage of the opportunities that those standards present, over time that will allow you to build a less costly infrastructure." — Jon Derome, Yankee Group
11. Get executive involvement in supply chain management at the highest level possible. According to a Booz Allen Hamilton study of supply chain success factors, in companies where responsibility for SCM resides below senior management, achieved annual savings in the cost to serve customers were just 55 percent of what they are when SCM was the purview of top management, at the CEO or chief operating officer level. Why? High-profile execs can ensure that SCM is part of the company's overall business strategy, rather than an afterthought.
12. In any technology implementation, make sure all the stakeholders have a shared understanding of the expected results. Tom Pisello, president and CEO of Alinean, says that too often chief information officers focus on delivering an IT project on time and on budget, rather than focusing on the metrics that matter to line-of-business executives. "CIOs need to work collaboratively with the business unit in putting together the business plan, understanding the impacts, modeling those impacts and then helping to achieve the impacts," says Pisello.
13. At the end of the day, it's all about hard work. Says John Fontana, a principal at Tigris Consulting: "After the 1990s, people are trying to figure out where their next source of competitive advantage is going to come from. It's not going to come from software, because everyone's got it and it's just leveling the playing field. It's all about blocking and tackling. The magic is gone, and it's all about pounding out results and getting incrementally better day after day."
14. But just because the software market has been in a funk, don't get the idea that IT doesn't matter anymore. David Camp, chief marketing officer at Tigris Consulting, puts it this way: "I don't think the era of IT as an innovator is over. It's just going through a period of maturity, and that's a good thing. It's like a forest fire that blazes through the forest, clears out the underbrush and creates a healthier environment for the trees that remain."
15. So keep thinking about the next technology that will give your company an advantage. "You know the old saying, 'He who is not busy being born, is busy dying.' We are already thinking about how to do things better, how to take more transactions out, how we can better slice and dice our data to get better information." — Sarmento Silva, AstraZeneca
[SIDEBAR] The Practitioner's Perspective: AstraZeneca
At pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, Sarmento Silva has no doubt that technology
is advancing the enterprise's business and contributing to its competitiveness. Silva, director of purchasing system development and re-engineering for the London-headquartered company, explains that AstraZeneca, like other players in the pharmaceutical industry, relies heavily on new product development to remain competitive. "A pharmaceutical company is only as good as its pipeline," Silva says. No wonder the company, which has 2002 sales of $17.8 billion, spends more than $11 million every working day on research and development, adding up to $3.1 billion in 2002.