Corporations see in softwareâ€™s seductive invisibility and seemingly open-ended flexibility a never-ending frontier of promise, where hope triumphs over reality …. And hope, unfortunately, has never been a very effective strategy.
The above quote is taken from a paper “The Trouble With Enterprise Software” by Cynthia Rettig, published by Sloan Management Review. I recommend it to everyone who is involved with software and business. It is especially useful for non-technical executives. If you are in the IT/software field, it is very common to experience the tension between business and IT. This paper debunks many of the common myths and makes an honest assessment of the often messy situation with enterprise software.
A few excerpts from the paper.
As work became more complex and specialized over the 20th century, the use of data â€” numbers and facts â€” as fodder for more and more analysis and fact-based decision making intensified. And digital technology â€œwas perfect for this kind of world.â€ Of course, digital technology not only supported that complexity but also played a large part in actually creating it, weaving a continuous web of unending data.
What do business executives miss?
Business executives, however, simply want to continue to believe that technology will lower costs, improve processes and reduce the size of the workforce. They donâ€™t want to understand IT issues. In part, this is because technology requires special skills and intellectual talents that are quite distinct from those needed to understand and manage business organizations, markets and strategy. But it is also because executives do not like to hear about the downside of technology.
On the difficulty of aligning technical and business sides:
… long-term plan calls for closer and closer communication and collaboration between the IT and business sides of the organization. While much to be desired, this has proved difficult in the past, and with increasing complexity in software systems, it is unlikely to improve by itself in the future. Differing backgrounds and perspectives, goals, even vocabularies â€” all hamper efforts to improve communication across this internal digital divide. Biases intrude: A recent study by Forrester Research Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts, found that only 28% of CEOs thought their CIOs were proactive or creative in terms of business process improvement
The pdf of the paper is available through Google search.
The Trouble With Enterprise Software
Has enterprise software become too complex to be effective?
Fall 2007 MIT SLOAN MANAGEMENT REVIEW 21