In the new global business age it is more important than ever to leverage technology organization expertise for business benefit. Too often technology organizations focus on technology for the sake of technology rather than for how it might improve products and services or how it might create more customer focus.
In today’s competitive global economy, filled with international economic instability, no part of the enterprise can afford to move very far from what pays the bills. If your SAP or IT organization is focused completely on technology solutions you lose sight of what is important to the business. And what is that? Customers: customer retention, acquisition, loyalty, satisfaction, and experience. Without customers there is no growth or revenue. Without growth or revenue there is no need for that expensive SAP or IT investment.
Finding SAP IT Convergence in Innovation and Customer Focus
A dynamic shift away from “back office” or operational focus is needed to move the SAP organization toward genuine IT convergence. To make the change requires a deeper and more meaningful understanding of business itself. It requires a focus on the organization’s products or services (i.e. innovation, read Process Execution of Business and IT Innovation) and then how those products or services are marketed and sold.
This emphasis on IT convergence, especially in the SAP enterprise, is about preparing your organization for the changes which are beginning to shape the future of enterprise applications, or “ERP III” (for a detailed explanation of ERP, ERP II, and ERP III see ERP vs. ERP II vs. ERP III Future Enterprise Applications). So what is ERP III? ERP III is the next generation of enterprise applications which leverage social media (or other collaborative tools) in news ways to integrate customers into the borderless enterprise.
Without a clearer focus on customers as well as innovation in the enterprise, or “how business gets done,” the SAP and overall IT organization becomes a very expensive operational support layer. Without the genuine business focus the organization becomes a commodity to be outsourced.
How Can You Transition to Full SAP IT Convergence?
By now the need for full convergence is clearer. But if it’s still not clear enough consider another element or your SAP or IT organization–, look at the pay structure for your SAP skills. Your SAP staff is likely paid equivalent salaries to very senior level employees at your company. In some cases they may make as much as some of the junior executives. And then remind yourself, this pay range is for non-management positions. So we have to consider what it will take to change the organization to achieve convergence.
From the last few posts, as well as my own experience, here is my “short list” of important things to do to achieve convergence:
- Steering Committee Engagement and Roadmap Management
- Pursue business executive sponsorship but don’t wait for it to get started
- Engage at all levels of the organization
- MBA in the IT organization
- Conduct one or more pilot programs and capture lessons learned
Start a communication program
Exchange staff program to integrate the IT organization into the business
Hold IT staff accountable for participation
Don’t let available tools stifle participation or innovation
- Invest in NON-TECHNICAL IT training
Questioning and Negotiation
Conflict management and resolution
There are two other areas that I will offer some insight on. As a result of the explosion in mobile devices (literally hundreds of millions of them) there is a need to ensure that technology solutions are “device agnostic.” In other words, as employees begin to provide their own smartphones be ready to support them. If your organization is tasked with the cost for the plans and hardware, supporting employee provided mobile devices is cheaper even with the additional support overhead. On the second front there are business direct buy purchases of technology. As last week’s post pointed out, because of what the business perceives as a lack of responsiveness to their needs they are making more of their own direct technology purchases. Learn to live with this and to engage in more of an internal consulting role so that the solutions are a better fit for the business and the SAP or IT organization.
How you approach the future for your technology organization–, isolation, alignment, or convergence; will determine how valuable you are to the business in the future. And with today’s competitive landscape combined with the economic struggles it is more important than ever to demonstrate business value.
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