All in Governance

Professor Andrew McAfee has an excellent series of posts related to the application of “return on investment” (ROI) calculations to enterprise IT. His posts deserve a close reading. He gets some flack for seeming to argue against measurement, but as he explains in his second post, that’s not his point; he’s basically saying that too many business cases that rely on a haphazard or incomplete calculation of IT benefits are flawed, incorrect, incomplete, or self serving.

The IT Director in a Large Manufacturing Company Discusses "Baby Boomer Brain Drain"

Last week I interviewed “Ferris” (not his real name) about how his company is handling the pending retirement of senior IT staff. Ferris is the IT Director in a large manufacturing company. Ferris’ company doesn’t have the mix of custom legacy Cobol and Assembler based mainframe systems that Boris the Insurance Company CIO has.
Last week I interviewed “Boris” (not his real name) about his and his company’s handling of the pending retirement of senior IT staff who are critical to the maintenance and operation of a number of his company’s business-critical mainframe legacy systems. I was initially interested in learning whether Boris thought that modern social networking and collaboration tools might be useful in documenting and transferring the specialised expertise staff needed for maintaining critical systems. Instead, the discussion took a different direction and revealed some underlying issues that go beyond technology enabled knowledge sharing.
Back on July 17 I wrote about the potential impact of pending retirement related “baby boomer brain drain” on IT departments, especially those heavily invested in supporting legacy mainframe systems. As a followup I asked for research interviews with several CIO’s I know in order to get a better handle on the issue and to find out whether emerging Web 2.0 and social networking and collaboration technologies might be supportive of knowledge transfer to younger staff.
Once upon a time I helped manage a complex post-merger system consolidation project where two mainframe based systems were being integrated. The client hadn’t done a lot of projects like that and hired outside consultants to help with the project planning, management, and execution. We found out quickly that a few key client staff members were extremely scarce resources. One was a senior consultant who had been brought back by the client after his retirement. He was, hands-down, THE absolute expert on the target system’s very large and very complex database. I’ll call him “Alex.”
In the first article in this series I commented on the web based evolution of systems for matching up experts (and their expertise) with users based on relationship management and social software technologies. In this article I discuss the implementation of such systems within large organizations
I've been thinking some more about the issues raised in my earlier posting The Inevitablility of "Too Many Gateways". One of the reasons the situation exists, as Ismael Ghalimi described where he has to maintain many separate accounts to manage different internet gateway services for feeds and data exchange, is that it's becoming increasingly possible to create such services and to make then available on the web.
There’s an interesting book excerpt available on the Harvard Business School’s “Working Knowledge” web site titled Managing Alignment as a Process, by Robert S. Kaplan and colleague David P. Norton. I read through the excerpt and what it says about “alignment” is interesting to put into the context of enterprise adoption of Web 2.0 technologies and processes.
Basically, “Web 2.0″ means different things to different people. * To the programmer, it’s a set of tools and techniques that have the potential for fundamentally altering how network based applications and data are managed and delivered. * For start-ups and venture capitalists, it’s an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of another bubble. * For the corporate CIO or IT manager, it’s another set of technologies and architectures to be adopted and supported in an era of continued I.T. department budget strains. * For newer or smaller companies, it’s an opportunity to acquire technical and business process infrastructure at a fraction of the investment made by older and legacy companies. * For the marketing manager it’s an opportunity to “end-run” a traditionally unresponsive I.T. department. * For the CEO of an established legacy industry, it’s a threat of loss of control over customer relations. * For the customer it’s an opportunity to establish and maintain relationships that are both personally fulfilling and empowering in the face of the traditional power of larger institutions.
Significant opportunities to meet market and customer needs are emerging as corporations harness the next generation of “Web 2.0” tools and applications. Many business units recognize this and want to move quickly. But are corporate I.T. (Information Technology) departments ready — and willing — to provide the needed support? This article discusses how business units and corporate I.T. departments can work together to leverage emerging “Web 2.0” applications.
For a given technology-based application, system, or service, it's critical for a company to define who owns and is responsible for developing, managing, and running it. Failure to do so can result in "orphan" applications and systems that sit uncomfortably between business and IT, all the while consuming resources (storage space, updates, maintenance, communication costs, infrastructure costs, governance costs, etc.). Even blogs and podcasts can turn into "orphan applications" if we're not careful.