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Simplify your IT

This book will be available soon, written by Isabell Jäger and Rolf Schumann. Here’s the preview!


Do you often get the feeling that you can no longer see the wood for the trees in the computer jungle? Whatever happened to good old electronic data processing (EDP)? Once hailed as a “wonder weapon” and a friendly helper for the home and the workplace, it seems to have become so complex that none but the “experts” feel at ease with it. […] The IT market is awash with abbreviations that actually create more confusion than clarity. This is the current general perception of IT, and it cannot be explained away. Sadly, we are losing sight of the real value that could be gained from using IT.

Is there any way of closing the gap between this current perception and the real value of IT? Of course there is, and simplification is the key! After all, it must surely be possible to present the real value of the wonderful world of IT without allowing the underlying technology to engender fear and confusion.

This is exactly what we want our book to do. We want you to read it and rediscover the possibilities of IT – for yourself and for your company. We won’t be looking at the technological details and intricacies of the latest scientific achievements to emerge from research and development. We intend to go back to basics. Our experience in the IT industry has convinced us that good technology is always hidden away somewhere in the background. This is a fate that the many intelligent and innovative figures in the IT industry simply have to live with. […]

We would also like to pass on ideas and advice about how you can immediately bring about changes in your IT – or at least in your perception of it. But why, you may be asking yourself, have we decided to publish a book about simplifying IT at this particular point in time? The answer is simple. This is a perfect moment to reflect on IT. We’re right in the middle of a radical transition to the next technology generation: A new generation that is opening up a whole vista of opportunities for companies of every size and of every kind to take a good, hard look at their business processes and practices.

[…] Let us inspire you to simplify your IT and start enjoying greater success right away. Because that is exactly what we want this book to achieve. Focusing on five topic areas, we’ll show you how – with very little effort – you can turn your company’s IT into a strategic weapon. Are you ready? Use our ideas and tips to start making changes now. It’s your company. It’s your IT. And there’s not a moment to lose. Enjoy reading the book, but enjoy making the changes even more!

SOA – rediscovering the enterprise

What are the top priorities for today’s enterprises? What are the challenges they must tackle to remain successful? Numerous studies and surveys have come to the same conclusion. To still be successful in 2010, companies must do the following: deregulate, globalize, and commoditize. But what exactly do these three familiar catchwords mean? […]

Companies can hold their own in this new market by differentiating themselves significantly from the competition to ensure that a customer who buys from them today will not go and buy from a competitor tomorrow. But how do you reach customers in the first place? And how do you win their loyalty so that you can carry on supplying them with your services? The answer is: “Be better! Be  different!” Being better does not necessarily mean that you have to be cheaper. Being better means that your company operates in such a way that it stands out from the competition. To do this, you have to be more innovative. So what does that mean? […]

Simplify-Tips in this chapter:

Simplify-Tip 1: Discover the true company
Simplify-Tip 2: Business has right of way
Simplify-Tip 3: Less is more – the platform decision


Consolidation – time to tidy up

Faced with tight competition and a shaky economic situation, many companies are having to scrutinize their IT spending. But they should not try to save money at all costs. The key is to make conscious use of cost-saving potential without putting the company at a competitive disadvantage. […]

In today’s climate, corporate IT budgets are often stagnating. Some are even shrinking. Yet business requirements are growing all the time. This means that the challenge for IT is to perform better with fewer means. How can that possibly work? Well, we simply have to operate IT more economically.

The current crisis should be seen as an opportunity to consolidate IT landscapes. We’ve got to reduce costs by simplifying existing landscapes and reducing complexity. We have to mercilessly discard anything that is not relevant to a business process. […]

Simplify-Tips in this chapter:

Simplify-Tip 4: Open your eyes – convergence is the key
Simplify-Tip 5: Make better use of hardware
Simplify-Tip 6: Optimize software and data
Simplify-Tip 7: The principle of reusability
Simplify-Tip 8: Keep at it!


Innovation – just do things differently

Is differentiation the only way to stay ahead of the competition and corner that all-important competitive advantage? Is differentiation the only form of innovation? Of course not. Previous chapters have shown that innovation can take all manner of different forms. “Innovation” means “introducing something new”, or “doing something in a new way”. Accordingly, different types of innovation have different effects. Generally speaking, the effects of innovation are divided into five categories. […]

If we take a closer look at any company, we’ll very quickly see that, while there is a definite correlation between innovation and success, innovation is by no means the sole guarantee of success. If you ask successful companies to tell you their secret, you’ll always hear the word “innovation”. Strangely enough, however, many companies that disappear from the market have often invested heavily in innovation. Successful companies always have an innovation strategy. And that is the secret: innovation must follow a specific and focused path. […]

Simplify-Tips in this chapter:

Simplify-Tip 9: Tolerating errors – exhausting the power of ideas
Simplify-Tip 10: Simple innovations bring the company forward
Simplify-Tip 11: Innovation – two-packs are best
Simplify-Tip 12: Define a standard process for innovation
Simplify-Tip 13: Involve the innovator in realizing the innovation


Outsourcing – dismount from a dead horse

Outsourcing emerged as a trend in the 1990s and was greeted as the ultimate weapon in the battle to cut costs, according to the motto “Do my mess for less”. […]
Many companies succumbed blindly to the temptation to outsource entire processes or even entire business units – employees included – without doing their homework properly first. They outsourced indiscriminately to harvest the promised fruits of cost benefits. […]

The gravest error you can make when you outsource is to hand core areas or processes to an external service provider. The risks to the company cannot be overstated. Not only does it surrender, or even lose, expertise from the core areas in question, but it also becomes unnecessarily dependent on the service provider. […]
Here we come to the heart of the matter. The question we should be asking is not, “Should we outsource?” but rather, “What should we outsource?” A saying attributed to the Dakota Indians will help us answer this question: “When the horse is dead, it’s time to dismount!” […]

Simplify-Tips in this chapter:

Simplify-Tip 14: Dismount while the horse is still alive
Simplify-Tip 15: Curing lame horses
Simplify-Tip 16: Keeping the stable clean
Simplify-Tip 17: Letting other jockeys ride
Simplify-Tip 18: Finding the right partner


Ecosystem – innovation is everywhere

In preceding chapters, we have seen how Internet-based platforms are opening up completely new possibilities. But the changes won’t end there. New social structures will emerge to promote cooperation between global enterprises. Innovation cycles will shrink dramatically. Companies are turning more and more to the Internet to develop new products, communicate with their customers, and maintain relationships with their employees and business partners. More than ever before, innovations are arising from collaboration between partners, suppliers, and sometimes even competitors. […]

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. “One for all, and all for one”. This famous motto of The Three Musketeers appears to be establishing itself in the software industry. Platform providers like SAP are teaming up with partners and key customers from a variety of industries to develop new enterprise solutions based on a common technology and software platform. […]

Simplify-Tips in this chapter:

Simplify-Tip 19: Searching for innovative networks
Simplify-Tip 20: Communities – exchanging views with like minded people
Simplify-Tip 21: Too much openness can be harmful
Simplify-Tip 22: Reuse innovation elements
Simplify-Tip 23: Distinguish between friends and acquaintances


From information technology to strategic technology

So where exactly is the simplification of IT taking us? The arguments we have used so far sound plausible, and, for an IT professional such as you, they’re certainly not difficult to take on board. Have some of our tips helped you identify areas where you could take action? That’s great, but what’s the point of it all? […]

Simplify-Tips in this chapter:

Simplify-Tip 24: Incubation instead of change management
Simplify-Tip 25: Living out new roles – from CIO to CPIO

[…] Have we achieved our aim? Has this book succeeded in showing you how easy it is to turn your information technology into strategic technology?
We would love to think that our Simplify-Tips have helped you take a fresh look at a topic that is perhaps often presented in far too complex a way. […] We hope this book will help you simplify your IT, and we wish you every success in your endeavors!

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