The past 2 years, I have been investing increasingly more of my time in the topic of enterprise mobility. Every time again, I run into the same problems when trying to present a solution. In essence, it all boils down to one single point. “Lack of vision and strategy on Technology.”
The business has the budget and requests the project. IT is supposed to support business and will implement the project. However, as business has the budget, they call the shots. They will decide what technology to use and how to implement their baby. So IT does not get to decide on what they know best. They can argument all they want, but in the end, it’s business that takes the decision. In a small firm, with a small system landscape, this isn’t too big an issue, because they tend to stick with what they know.
Now let’s say you have a really big enterprise with many different business areas, units, lines, whatever you want to call them. Department A starts a project and wants to use technology 123. Fine, IT follows and implements it. Meanwhile department B starts another project which could perfectly benefit from technology 123, but because they are unaware of what A is doing, they choose technology XYZ.
Sounds ridiculous, right? There should always be someone who has an overview on the running projects!
Yes! There is, but that person mostly knows what the project is about, business wise. He/she has no clue about the technology. So as the second project has a completely different goal, there is noone to step in and say, “use technology 123”. But even if they do, there still is no guarantee that the one with the budget does not decide otherwise.
Applied to mobility
This is especially a problem in the mobility area. All of the sudden, mobile has become the wonder child, and all entities in the enterprise want to have some sort of mobile solution. However, they do not synchronize and they all want to use their own device and their own solution. That’s where the fun starts.
A lot of the managers may have a blackberry device, which they require for their corporate mail. mostly, this comes together with an enterprise server. Now there are some managers who much rather like to use their iPhone. Unfortunately, the iPhone can’t communicate with the BES. So some of them ask IT to foresee something. IT may externalize the mail, or put in place a separate VPN tunnel, or use a tool such as “Good For Enterprises”.
Different solutions, just to get access to their mails.
Just imagine what happens when they start integrating back-end functionalities on their mobile devices. You’ll end up with multiple device types, multiple back-ends, and no transparency on communication and user management.
There’s a solution!
These are exactly the issues that a MEAP (Mobile Enterprise Application Platform) tackles. But those are far too expensive for a single business unit/functionality. So each project comes up with their own approach leading to a global TCO that is much higher than the cost of a MEAP. It’s as if the different silo’s don’t realize, that mobility also has an impact on your IT infrastructure, cross domain and cross entity.
This is why you need a global vision and strategy on IT. There must be a central department that lays down the law on architecture and the roadmap. This department must have the mandate and budget to develop the strategy and vision and proactively provide the tools needed by the business.
This is a situation where IT no longer supports business, but it proactively drives business.
Most of my rants end with this statement. It’s my motto. IT must drive business rather than supporting it.
Unfortunately, this still remains a Utopia in most enterprises, but one can only hope.