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Business Solutions with SAP

More on Stupid SAP Vendor – Partner Selection RFI-RFP Processes

February 14th, 2011 by
SAP RFI and RFP processes focusing on business success

SAP Vendor RFI and RFP

This is a followup from last week’s post on  Why SAP Vendor – Partner Selection RFI Processes are Stupid.  Next week’s post will provide insight, suggestions, and ideas on how to ensure your SAP RFI or RFP processes achieve the best possible results.

SAP is a COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) business software application.  In the COTS world solid financial statements may indicate an SAP partner or vendor who has mastered the art of “squatting” or “lock-in.”  They may routinely custom code non-mission critical “requests” from the business, where other more standard solutions might have worked. Less experienced consultants (with great margins for the consulting company) will often suggest customized solutions for areas that are not business critical because it is easier than the change management requirements.

Some of these SAP vendors do custom coding under the pretense of “customer satisfaction” and trying to “meet your needs.”  I feel all warm and fuzzy, don’t you?

Is Custom SAP Development Really Customer Service?

After these SAP Partners have “satisfied” your requests for custom coding they stay on to constantly nurse, fix, adjust, and maintain their prized custom work.  There are times when custom development is justified but it must be related to a critical business need and not a “convenience.”  After you go-live with the customized, frequently broken, painfully inadequate “solution” you wonder how did we get here?  You ask yourself, “I thought they said all of this was ‘standard’, and ‘easy’ during the SAP RFI and RFP sales cycles?”

If you are even remotely thinking these types of thoughts the SAP RFI and RFP processes may have been more of a “beauty pageant” and not focused enough on business requirements or items which generate ROI (i.e. Return on Investment) for your enterprise software project.

I don’t care how great an SAP implementation vendor or partner thinks they are, all I want to know is exactly how they will help my business!

SAP Vendors “Pick Me!  Pick Me!” We’ve Got Great Financial Strength and Have Been There FOREVER!

An SAP system partner’s ability to “squat” at your company for years, collecting fees for software engineering, helps them to promote their “financial health” and “long term stability” to the next client –, leading me to ask, how again does this help your company realize the benefits of a Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) solution.  Your application life-cycle costs, or the SAP TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) will go sky high and you may only see negative SAP ROI.

RFI processes have got to focus on just one thing–, business benefit.  Everything else is part of a “beauty pageant.”

Start leveraging the RFI process to ensure that you are focusing on success criteria that is important to you! In the end what matters is that you get the very best consultants, who have extensive application experience and strong change management skills (see Screening and Interview Methods to Find the Right Consultant – Part 2).

The key is to focus on making the SAP RFI and SAP RFP processes about education as much as it is about vendor selection (see Breakthrough Project Success: 2 of 4, IT Vendor Proposal RFP). Make the SAP partner or vendor focus on what they can do for you and your business right from the beginning.

Can the SAP Partner Show You Business Benefit?

That SAP partner or vendor must demonstrate how they have been able to provide real, lasting, and tangible business benefit.  What business value did they deliver?  If they can’t show this then maybe they are profitable in their ability to “game” you during the sales process.  To maintain their financial health and margins they likely have inexpensive “technicians” rather than experts to work on your project (Successful SAP Project Team Composition – Technicians or Experts?).

Stop accepting fast-food taste and ambiance at five star restaurant prices — DEMAND business benefit.

Let me warn you here however, because this demand for verifiable business benefits is fairly new to the marketplace you may struggle to find your implementation partner.  Or you may end up managing your entire project completely on your own by bringing in your own outside contractors.  But until you as a customer and part of the larger marketplace start demanding results SAP vendors and partners will not change.

Your customers demand results from you, shouldn’t you demand the same of your SAP partner or vendor?

Business Focus Produces a More Meaningful SAP Vendor RFI and RFP

What do you want the end results of your SAP system to do for your company? Are you focused on operational excellence?  Are you looking to produce innovative products or services?  Do you want to focus on business and marketplace growth?  What is the ultimate goal of your SAP implementation?

The RFI, RFP, and selection process must focus on the skill, experience, and qualifications of the project manager and consultants. STOP right here and let that sink in. Will ANY of those grinning sales people be there to deliver one single business solution?  Of course not, they are there to make the promises to convince you to pay them for their consultants and project manager.  So I will ask you, why isn’t the entire RFI and RFP process focused more on the consultants and project manager that will be responsible for delivering your enterprise software project?  Shouldn’t you be spending more time learning about, interviewing, screening, and grilling the consultants and project manager than about how “great” the SAP partner claims to be?

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ERP vs. ERP II vs. ERP III Future Enterprise Applications

May 31st, 2010 by

ERP vs ERP ii vs ERP iiiERP I, ERP II, & ERP III Abstract

ERP applications integrate enterprise operations within and across enterprise legal entities, or company codes.

ERP ii (or ERP 2) applications extend supply functionality to external enterprises (generally vendor-affiliated companies or enterprises) to reduce cost, improve supply chain efficiency, and to perform collaborative innovation. 

ERP iii (or ERP 3) enterprises go to the next level of integrating the ERP and ERP ii functionality to include customers and the sales side of the marketplace into enterprise operations.  Your customers become active participants in your business.

Moving To the Border-less Enterprise

I’ve heard and read lots of material about the enterprise applications and what the next generation of ERP is.  Some have suggested that ERP systems were just manufacturing tools (see e.g. ERPwire article on major differences between ERP vs. ERP ii).  Some suggest ERP ii systems were little more than an extension of ERP functionality to new industry sectors.  In my opinion this is a completely misplaced assessment.  Changing industry sectors does not change what an ERP application does so a broader definition is more appropriate.

Before we go into the details and background of each of the 3 generations of enterprise applications here are my definitions for ERP, ERP ii, and ERP iii systems:

ERP Definition

An ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system integrates virtually all operational business functions and processes and automates entries to finance and reporting within the enterprise (the legal entity or entities that make up an entire company no matter where its operations are).  ERP systems focus almost exclusively on operational excellence value propositions of process efficiency and automation.

ERP II (or, in other words second generation ERP, ERP 2) Definition

Through collaboration, SOA, and other interface, data exchange, or interaction methods the ERP ii systems move beyond Enterprise boundaries (or a basic ERP system) and into the vendor space including the supply, design, and engineering collaboration areas. ERP ii systems continue to enhance operational excellence and start to introduce a measure of the innovation value proposition.

ERP III (or, in other words third generation ERP, ERP 3) Definition

Through collaboration, direct contact, social media, and various data streams within and outside of the enterprise ERP iii integrates marketplace fans and critics into the extended ERP and ERP ii organizations.  From this integration of the customer and vendor a constructive dialog and exchange of information is created to innovate, produce, and then sell / distribute better products or services.  This closes the value proposition loop by going outside of the enterprise boundaries and finding ways to bring customer input, needs, wants, and insight into the enterprise.  ERP iii system create a strong synergy between innovation and customer focus.

ERP System Definition or ERP Defined

The acronym ERP literally stands for “Enterprise Resource Planning.”  And this is exactly where I disagree with the ERPwire definition proposal.  Just a manufacturing system is not an “enterprise” system at all.  It is merely a manufacturing system, or an MES (Manufacturing Execution System).

As the university studies and academic literature note, ERP systems are “a single instance of data, a full process chain of dependencies” (see Change Management Strategies and Knowledge Transfer Processes for a Successful SAP Project citing Kallinikos, 2004).

In the ERP industry we (consultants and integrators) frequently refer to any ERP system as a type of “back office” application or system.  By “back office” we are referring to company centered business functions into a single database, or, a single “system of record.”  “Back office” processes are fully within the border and boundary of the enterprise.

In 2000, in an article addressing ERP ii, Gartner noted that they had defined ERP in 1990:

In 1990, Gartner defined ERP, establishing a new vision for the resource planning domain. That vision centered on resource planning and inventory accuracy, as well as visibility beyond the plant and throughout the manufacturing enterprise, regardless of whether the enterprise was a process manufacturer, discrete manufacturer or both. ERP has since appeared in different “flavors.” Extended ERP reflected the fact that many nonmanufacturing industries turned to ERP systems for “backbone” financial transaction processing capabilities (Bond, et. al., 2000 pg. 2, note 2).

That article went on to note that the accepted definition (in 2000 and beyond) had become:

Despite [the] original definition, ERP has become the accepted term for back-office transaction processing systems, regardless of the industry or region (Bond, et. al., 2000 pg. 3).

The definition I have provided is as comprehensive as the original Gartner proposal and includes the later understanding of the application to more industries and business functions.

ERP Focuses on the Operational Excellence Value Proposition

To understand the operational excellence perspective see the more detailed explanation of the functions and operations of an ERP system like SAP under the section “What is SAP?” ( http://www.r3now.com/define-sap ).

I generally try to categorize all system efforts and business functions into one of three “value proposition” buckets:

  • operational excellence (ERP),
  • innovation (ERP ii),
  • and customer focus (ERP iii).

The ERP context is almost exclusively focused on the “operational excellence” portion of business “back office” transactional processing.

ERP vs. ERP ii — What is ERP ii?

The next generations of Enterprise applications, or ERP ii systems, extend the “back office” ERP system processing to the extended supply chain.  They extend the enterprise into the supply chain outside of their legal entity borders as an active participant. This would include VMI (Vendor Managed Inventory) processing and KANBAN type demand and supply signals to vendors for JIT (Just In Time) stock management.  But it goes far beyond that, it is the “innovation” portion of the value proposition that is addressed here.

SAP includes ERP ii type extended supply chain applications like SRM (Supplier Relationship Management), APO (Advanced Planning and Optimization), and PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) to help move the supply chain beyond the enterprise borders.

ERP II Creates Collaboration Hubs Beyond Planning and Distribution Functions

Together with the extended supply chain applications there are a number of various exchanges such as common catalogs that are published to the web and integrate with their customer ordering.   Some examples of external exchanges can be seen in initiatives such as “Covisint” for the automotive industry, or Grainger’s online catalog system (although it is not a competitive based platform like Covisint), and many others.

One of the key functions or features of ERP ii systems is supply chain or vendor collaboration, which extends to engineering design and development.  Most enterprises using SRM systems use this to focus on cost reductions, vendor competition, and supply chain efficiencies.  They are generally geared to the operational excellence system domain but there is a LOT of untapped possibility.

The highest and best use of ERP ii functionality includes active collaboration with vendors to reduce cost, improve quality, reduce extended supply chain cycle times, and even co-engineer (or co-develop) better products and services.

Many ERP ii solutions now include some type of built-in “reverse auctions” where companies can place requirements out for competitive bids in various formats.  These exchanges might include data interchange methods such as EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) or other standards compliant communication protocols, but they are much more, they are active collaboration hubs.  Together with these collaboration hubs, SOA extensions are being used to extend collaboration and engineering design work to the extended supply chain.

How Has SAP Implemented ERP ii System?

SAP has created an entire collaboration network called the SAP Community Network or SCN (http://scn.sap.com) where customers, vendors, consultants, and any interested party can exchange information, ideas, or dialog.  SAP has implemented ERP ii systems internally through the development of specialized vendor partnerships it calls an “Ecohub” (http://ecohub.sdn.sap.com/).  This is a place where vendors, partners, or other firms with specialized SAP solutions can integrate and promote their offerings to enhance SAP’s various software offerings.  Along with that there are code exchanges, “how-to” articles, discussion forums, and many other types of collaborative information exchanges.  This is similar to what I proposed a few years ago when I wrote “SAP, ERP III, SOA — Learning Organizations through Social Media Collaboration.”

Operational Excellence and Innovation Value Propositions

ERP ii systems integrate the external vendors and suppliers into enterprise processes so that they can directly impact productivity, cost, and efficiency.  Some elements of ERP ii include engineering staff augmentation, free or at a very reasonable rate to the “customer company,” and as a value added service from vendors.  For vendors the ability to augment engineering functions can mean customer retention; for the customer companies this may mean higher quality and lower cost products or services.

SAP’s ERP offerings include PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) with CAD integration for several off the shelf CAD programs.  Although the PLM functionality is primarily used for internal engineering processes it can be pushed out into the extended supply chain for collaborative engineering and design.  That collaboration can be used for innovation if it is properly structured and implemented.  This is in conjunction with other integrated application offerings such as SRM and APO.

By extending engineering or collaboration functions outside of the enterprise, but still within the supply chain, innovation can be introduced into the ERP ii enterprise (see the entire series on Process Execution of Business and IT Innovation).   However, the primary feature of ERP ii systems is the additional operational excellence that is brought about by extended supply chain processing.  Very few companies have succeeded at collaborating with the extended supply chain by introducing extended engineering capabilities, or vendor insight to produce significant innovation.  Most ERP ii systems only work to extend the supply chain beyond the boundaries of the enterprise for cost savings and efficiencies (operational excellence).

Using SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) for Creating ERP ii and ERP iii Enterprises

The promise of ERP ii system success that moves toward ERP iii (discussed in a moment) is SOA or Service Oriented Architecture.

In layman’s terms, SOA is the ability to create a set of “talking points” from any internal system to external systems. 

They are the data structures and data schemas that are published for other systems to interact with and begin to create the framework for the “borderless enterprise.”

ERP iii Defined, What is ERP iii and How Does it Go Beyond ERP ii?

ERP iii addresses the final domain of enterprise class applications by addressing the customer focus value proposition.  It is the extension of technology capabilities which brings collaboration with customers and the broader marketplace into the enterprise system.  This goes way beyond what we currently refer to as CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems of today.  Today’s CRM applications still operate within the walls of the enterprise and are generally used for managing the sales force rather than moving the enterprise out into the wider marketplace and to direct interaction with customers.

ERP iii from a high level is fairly easy to define, however what it looks like in a few years is difficult to predict.  The areas that ERP iii touches are in a rapid state of change because of the dynamic nature of social media and the global marketplace.

ERP iii Defined

  • ERP applications integrate enterprise operations within and across enterprise legal entities, or company codes.
  • ERP ii applications extend supply functionality to external enterprises (generally vendor-affiliated companies or enterprises) to reduce cost, improve supply chain efficiency, and to perform collaborative innovation.
  • ERP iii enterprises go to the next level of integrating the ERP and ERP ii functionality to include customers and the sales side of the marketplace in general.

The end state of the ERP iii enterprise would include a dialog between customers (and potential customers), the ERP organization, and the extended supply chain so that even suppliers would participate in the sales side of the marketplace.  Because there is little or no information in the marketplace about ERP iii direction and design I am offering a more detailed definition here:

Through collaboration, direct contact, social media, and various data streams within and outside of the enterprise ERP iii integrates marketplace fans and critics into the extended ERP and ERP ii organizations.  From the integration of customers and vendors beyond the enterprise boundaries a constructive dialog or information exchange is created to innovate, produce, and then sell (or distribute) better products or services.

ERP iii will create the “borderless enterprise” by bringing together a host of technology sources such as:

  • Collaboration tools (within the enterprise and across the supply chain and marketplace)
  • Social media
  • Internet technologies
  • SOA
  • Smart information integration and synthesis (specialized search with analytics or within specific information domains).  An early example of this type of search is a web service called “Lijit.”  Lijit allows you to manually assign searchable information sources for a customized, high value “search engine.”
  • Extended marketing analytics that are “like” tracking cookies but less invasive and use additional sources of information and research beyond the web (a good example is like grocery store checkout programs that automatically print coupons on the back of your store receipts based on what you just purchased).
  • Direct customer collaboration (we see early examples of this in the Dell “designed by me” and “I made Windows 7” television commercial marketing campaigns).

The Future of ERP iii Systems

Within the extended SAP enterprise (which is my area of expertise) I see many of the seeds of ERP iii germinating and beginning to grow.  Even though the initial “green shoots” are there for an ERP iii revolution I don’t anticipate that occurring for several years within SAP.

Today SAP has:

  • Very active, country specific SAP User Groups (xSUG, in America is it ASUG) with “influence councils”
  • Community forums (previously mentioned)
  • “Mentor Groups” within the community network.

While these all contain the seeds of ERP iii outlets I do not see a lot of the raw material being converted into application enhancements to directly address business marketplace demands.  There are still way too many technical solutions and not enough for genuine business needs.

ERP iii integrates marketplace fans and critics into the extended ERP and ERP ii organizations to innovate, produce, and then sell (or distribute) “customer-centric” products or services.

I doubt that the integration of more social media will move the ERP iii needle much further.  SAP like any other company that embarks on this type of transformational exercise must begin to use their well established outlets to drive innovation and to meet marketplace requirements (see the entire series on Process Execution of Business and IT Innovation).

Social Media and ERP iii

Social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and other resources will need to become more sophisticated to produce meaningful differences in business-centered innovation or customer focus.  That sophistication for business will mean finding a means to use those outlets for genuine business competitive advantage.

It will take business some time to find new ways to tap into the collective marketplace consciousness through social media in spite of the massive number of what I refer to as “snake oil” salespeople.  Social media in the enterprise will not be useful until the snake oil sales finally align actual business needs to areas of the enterprise (sales, marketing, HR recruiting, etc.) that align with business goals and directions (see Social Media Fads and the Risk to the Enterprise).

Before ERP iii systems are ready for the extended marketplace and for customer interaction it will require “back office” integration with social media (see ERP III – Is the Integration of Collaboration the Future of Enterprise Applications).

As social media and collaboration tools mature over the next 10 or more years then corporations will finally build the ERP iii systems for integration into the wider marketplace.  By then the ERP ii systems will have finally matured to the point that some of them can provide meaningful integration between the enterprise, the entire supply chain and the sales side of the marketplace in general.

ERP, ERP ii, and ERP iii Conclusion

Considering this specialized class of business systems through the lens of the high level value propositions of

1) operations,

2) innovation, and

3) customers;

here is my summary:

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)

Primarily focused on the “back office” with a heavy emphasis on operations, automation, cost control, financial activity, and lagging business indicators of performance.

ERP ii (the second generation of Enterprise Resource Planning)

Extends “back office” processing functions and operations into the extended supply chain with a heavy emphasis on supply chain automation, additional efficiency, more cost control, and some vendor collaboration for limited innovation.  This area of the application moves into the “last mile” of improvements that can be more expensive to implement and yield lower returns.  However, carried out properly with significant supply chain collaboration and joint engineering or development efforts this can provide new / innovative products or services addressing both lagging indicators of cost control and efficiency while exploring leading indicators of new products or services.

ERP iii (the next generation of Enterprise Resource Planning)

This will encompass the integration of social media with new marketplace intelligence and analytics into the ERP ii enterprise.  With a very simply “hub and spoke” idea, the enterprise will constitute the “hub” and the extended supply chain vendors, engineers, and designers, together with customers and market analysis as some of the “spokes.”  This will be enabled by the ERP application that is extended with collaboration and social media tools.  The ERP, ERP ii, and ERP iii functions will all be integrated with new analytics and “smart source” search methods to integrate and synthesize trend, market, and product or service information.  This will close the loop on the ERP ii innovation and will bring a new customer focused business paradigm into the enterprise that goes far beyond today’s CRM applications.

ERP iii state companies will be marketplace disrupters who are agile, nimble, and global.  They will be able to spot emerging trends and unmet customer demands (needs or wants) far more quickly and with greater ability than their peers.  From those trends and customer needs these companies will be able to quickly execute innovation programs to develop new products and services to quickly fill those customer demands.  The most advanced of these new “disruptive innovators” will be the companies who can intelligently synthesize all of the various data points to understand customer demands that are not even articulated.

======================

Bond, B., Genovese, Y., Miklovic, D., Wood, N., Zrimsek, B., and Rayner, N. (2000). ERP Is Dead — Long Live ERP II; Gartner Publications.

Kallinikos, J. (2004), “Deconstructing Information Packages. Organizational and Behavioral Implications of ERP Systems.” Information Technology and People, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 8-30.




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CIO, CFO, and CEO Alignment – Why ROI is Lacking from Today’s System Landscape

February 17th, 2010 by

The first part of this series looked at What is the Proper Relationship for the CIO, CEO, and CFO?  The CIO role is already challenging and gaining in difficulty in today’s business environment.  And by all measures it looks as though things will continue to become more difficult and complex as time goes on.  Today’s CIO must not only keep up with technology, and business process improvement with automation, but must also become a “mini-MBA” in applying technology solutions to forward looking business strategies including customer acquisition, customer retention, revenue growth and profitability.  Although it is a monumental task it is possible.

Where technology can achieve solid ROI and breakthrough results in the enterprise are in the two key value areas that have not been well addressed: customer focus (beyond CRM) together with product or service innovation.

Want ROI?  The Next Wave in ERP Will Occur by Changing the Focus from Process to Customer

The heart of the business is the customer, without them there is no business. Today’s technology initiatives, whether they are with ERP products like SAP, various CRM offerings, or a whole host of other technologies and packages focus more on processes and on technology than they do on the heart of the business.  I’m a fan of visual models.  They help me to think through, adjust, and understand complex ideas in a simplified and high level manner.  For example, the simple model below represents today’s package application technology landscape in terms of the 3 key areas of business. 

  • The large red bubble is the technology process focus on the value proposition of “operational excellence,”
  • the orange block are the technology tools and systems that are typically applied,
  • the smaller green bubble is the value area of “customer focus,”
  • and the tiny center of intersection between business processes and customers in the blue block is the value area of “customer focused innovation”.

That is the sad state of today’s typical technology environment.

Customer Focused Innovation at the Process and Customer Intersection is the Ultimate Objective of a Change in Technology Focus

Successful package applications and technology application over the next couple of decades will dramatically alter this dynamic.  They will focus more aggressively on the customer and the innovation intersection between the customer and business processes.  Business processes will necessarily get closer to the customer and technology will be focused on the integration of the customer into business processes.  By doing so customers will have a greater influence over the types, quality, and availability of products and services.  The following model shows what I believe the next twenty years will develop as the winning technology landscape of the future:

  • Although covered with technology, business processes become a secondary focus to the customer for technology.
  • To enable this the technology landscape shifts to encompass more of the customer interaction with the business, potentially leading to ideas such as “mass customization.”
  • The area of customer-centered innovation becomes much larger as businesses learn to integrate their customers deeper into their business processes.
  • The customer naturally becomes much more important to the application of technology like never before.

The current state of the economy and global economic pressures have created a disruption in the classic technology model of process improvement and process automation.  Together with global competition and a potentially permanent change in customer purchasing characteristics winners and losers will emerge in the new technology arena.  As customers take center stage and innovation becomes more important just for business survival collaboration will become more and more important as well.  The transformation of business and technology will require new collaborative technology tools to build bridges between business, customers, and the product or service development areas.

Modern technology has lowered the barrier to entry for new competitors by allowing international outsourcing, greater agility, quicker product design to market, and specialized focus on niche markets causing more market fragmentation and specialization. Customers have a wide variety of information from sellers and the Internet about products, design, services, options, pricing, and availability.  Things are more dynamic than ever.

Because of the pace of change, focusing on “best practices” and internal process improvement, or even extending processes is no longer enough. Business can rarely (if ever today) integrate, automate, and streamline to achieve marketplace success –, to one degree or another nearly every competitor is doing this or is quickly headed in that direction.

Business complexity and the breakneck pace of change turns yesterday’s breakthrough technology into today’s commodity; vendors are modestly integrated into the extended supply chain, all the way from raw materials to end customer delivery; customers are more sophisticated and have more options than ever through the Internet; competitors have worked to incorporate similar technology throughout their entire process chains by integrating, automating, and accelerating their processes.  As a result, business demand on technology simultaneously creates new opportunities and new struggles. 

Want BIG ROI for Your Technology Investment?

Maybe it is as simple as changing the focus of where you invest your technology spend.  After all, without some major breakthrough in process design or automation the “last mile” of process improvement has the highest cost with the least return on the investment.  If you want  a big return focus on where the business needs the investment, in the areas that affect customer acquisition, customer retention, and innovation.  Once you figure these out and apply your technology investment there you will be seen as a genuine partner to the business and less of a cost center and overhead.  And once you figure these out your technology department will become the real “rock stars” of your business.
 

Part 1:  What is the Proper Relationship for the CIO, CEO, and CFO?

In the first part of this series we looked at the changing business landscape and what it means to the CIO, IT Director, IT Manager, or other key technology decision makers.  From a high level the current global business competition, as well as economic issues are directly affecting the C-level executive requirements and the CIO – CFO – CEO dynamic.  This article reviewed how and where the CIO role is coming under tremendous pressure and how to change the current dynamic by more appropriately partnering with the CFO and the CEO.  This partnership is a critical business bridge between lagging business indicators of business financial and process health on the CFO – COO side of the business house and the leading indicators of sales and product or service pipelines on the CEO side of the business house. 

Part 2:  CIO, CFO, and CEO Alignment – Why ROI is Lacking from Today’s System Landscape

The second part was an overview of the current system landscape and its focus on business processes and the emerging trend of trying to focus on the customer.  This piece also looked at the future business landscape and how the technology focus and direction will be permanently changed no matter what happens with the economy and global competition.  Because the technology marketplace (business consumer) is becoming more sophisticated and more attuned to business / technology alignment, the IT dynamic is going through a structural change.  The whole technology sector is slowly moving away from the “operational excellence” value proposition to the “customer focus” and “innovation” areas of the business.  Very few of the consulting companies and few of the application vendors see this sea change and are doing little to address it.  This is the area of technology market winners and losers of the next 20 years.

Part 3:  Changing the Direction of SAP, ERP, and IT Applications to Focus on the Customer and Innovation

The third part in the series looked at current technology landscapes and how they are aligned and then looked at future technology landscapes.  A brief review of the supply side and the demand side of business shows that unless you have lots of customers (demand) to fill a bigger and bigger pipeline (supply) then your business model collapses.  While it is hidden during good economic climates, any disruption in those economic conditions which fails to fill the capacity pipeline points out the glaring insufficiency of the “operational focus” to technology.  During any economic disruption, or any reduction in demand from customers for your products or services the current technology model falls apart. 

Part 4:  Future Technology Landscape Alignment for the CIO, IT Director, or Key IT Decision Maker

The final part of the series looks at the emerging technology landscape and what the future holds.  It lays out an emerging technology landscape model which has some re-alignment and some components already in use by some of the world’s most successful companies.  A new alignment of technology with the customer facing processes, and the use of social or collaboration tools across the enterprise with a clear business objective is explored.  The driver for the future change will be because the business does not see the revenue generation prospects of technology–, they fail to see the possibilities of promoting customer retention, customer acquisition, innovation, and marketplace analytics.  The new technology model looks to change that dynamic.

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