lundi 13 décembre 2010

Preface by René Abate, Senior Advisor, BCG

A few weeks ago, I was in a Parisian hospital for a routine check. While the physician was writing his report, I asked him to compare the results with previous ones. He told me, upon consideration, that It had changed and that “they” had not input old examinations. Then came a litany of complaints about the IT system, unfitted for that physician’s usage. I answered him that what he was criticizing was his working tool and I suggested that it wasn’t “their” IT, but his.

This anecdote is indeed still representative of the IT situation today in numerous companies; a strange, technical, distant, and often incomprehensible object. General Managements and Boards are sometimes disconcerted by the lead-times and the cost of the projects presented to them, most often with a technical angle and rarely with a ‘business’ vision. The operational departments which use it are, for their part, sceptical or resigned.

This is unfortunate because new information technologies allow achieving progresses in efficiency, and also create relevant opportunities to increase the turnover, either by creating new business models, new products and services, or by better exploiting available or accessible data about their clients. Numerous companies in the industry, services, retailing or energy, for instance, try and succeed in it. The State services, by developing an online application for income statements and to pay taxes, have increased the service level for the citizens and improved efficiency. Beyond, it is even possible to reinvent some markets, as Apple proved with iTunes, or as Amazon and FNAC are now trying to do with the Kindle/FnacBook.

The digitalization of products and services brought about by internet and that the systems have to support is an accelerator for our companies. A recent study by BCG commissioned by Google about the internet impact in the United Kingdom showed that internet economy represents 7% of the GDP, growing by 10% per year, the greatest beneficiaries being the SMBs which seized the opportunity to propose new services (searching for clients, organizing contacts or selling goods).

In front of those challenges, the companies must evolve their systems. They are sometimes embarrassed by the complexity of existing systems which do not allow developing applications with the desired speed or cost. It is very tempting, in order to adapt to the rhythm of the markets, to tend toward a complete redesign of the systems with the objective of replacing current Information Systems. Those attempts have not always been successful! On the other hand, the systems can be evolved and, by doing so, satisfy the requests from business lines. This requires establishing a quality dialogue and shared interests between the IT department, the operational departments, and service providers. Such a dialogue allows creating new value and better reconciling the long and short terms.

The interest of this book, written by a professional and two consultants, is to propose a ‘business’ approach of the IT, and a conceptual framework that allows thinking about it with method and common sense, while ensuring that the operational departments are not sceptical or ‘resigned’, but stakeholders…

If this approach is implemented, then the anecdote of the physician will become an anomaly, because after all ‘one has the IT one deserves.’

René Abate

Managing Partner, Delphen

Senior Advisor, Former Chairman of BCG Europe

Director of companies