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CIOs beware: information issues can shut down your business unless given attention

San Antonio's RiverwalkI was at a customer event this weekend in sunny San Antonio. (When I left home, it was -5. Three hours later, I was enjoying 78 degree weather. So nice.) We had great customers there from many different industries and from all over North America. Also, the attendees had great breadth of functional responsibilities—all the way from Enterprise Architects to BPM Engineers. This great melting pot of customers always leads to interesting—and diverse—conversations. But the one customer story that sticks with me went like this. To set the stage, the CIO is a smart, generally progressive guy:


This customer was talking to a CIO the other day about managing value and business processes. A few times in the conversation, she sprinkled the word “information”. Soon she noticed that he wasn’t really paying attention to what she was saying, so she stopped.

“What’s going on? Am I not making sense? Are we talking about different problems?”, she asked.

“I’m kind of stunned right now,” he said. “You mention ‘information’, and I’m thinking that I thought the business was taking care of all of that. IT isn’t involved in that discussion at all.”

She nearly fell of her chair. “Whaaaa-aaaat? IT hasn’t even talking about an information agenda?”

“No. We assumed Business was taking care of everything there, and if there was a problem, they’d let us know.”

“I promise you that there are problems. By not being involved, you’re just ensuring that the problems will be disastrous when they show up,” she said.


This is not uncommon. IT has so many issues to tackle, between mobility, outsourcing, the cloud, etc. But Business and IT must partner on a comprehensive information strategy, or risk serious consequences in the way of fines, plant down time, increased Day Sales Outstanding, and more.

Another customer told the story of how the entire company had to shut down after an ERP go-live, because all available information was simply moved into the new ERP system. However, core attributes were missing (or defaulted to 1 penny). 2,000 parts could not be fulfilled because they were never put into the ERP system. Imagine the cost!

Luckily, there are lots of great ways to help you set up an information agenda. SAP’s Strategic Information Management Services can help you pinpoint the high-value information problems to solve, and SAP’s EIM solutions can help you quickly solve those problems.

Before a disaster.

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  • Nice anecdote 🙂

    I always thought the I in IT stood for “Information”, no? And master data is only the tip of the iceberg in this story. What about all the shared drives? Controlling the way in which sensitive data is being consumed and distributed?

    Creating information is indeed a (joint) responsibility of business. Managing the information is a part of IT’s business.

    Strange how some fail at this critical point and get lured in a false sense of security.