Getting Information Technology onto the agenda of any board has to be recognised as an achievement, but too often it happens solely on the back of a specific business requirement, and without the context of a clear strategy for IT.
The costs of this approach are seldom obvious up-front, with business cases being delivered on a ‘point-solution’ basis. Few organisations are considering the longer term costs of integration and, worse still, no one is asking about the sustainability of their point-solutions, in a world where there is an increasing requirement to ‘join-up’.
For example, UK Central Government has focussed on setting business-specific targets for the delivery of e-Government. As a result, millions of pounds of public money have been poured into the delivery of point-solutions that were never designed to join-up. IT suppliers too must shoulder a proportion of the blame; in many cases, providing supposedly ‘open’ interfaces, on the back of proprietary application architectures, that lock naïve customers into a never-ending requirement for ‘modules’ and ‘customisation’ to extend and integrate the capabilities of their business systems.
We’re already seeing the effects of this, as organisations that took the applause for early adoption of ‘e-Government targets’, are now faced with spiralling maintenance and integration costs. Those responsible for this charade will move on, but UK tax payers will get to pick up the tab for years to come. This is avoidable, but not without a strategic vision and framework for the deployment of IT in your organisation.
Far from trying to “consume an elephant in bite-sized chunks”, we need to build our elephant. Without a vision of the animal that we’re trying to create, we’re in danger of delivering, not an elephant but a giraffe, or worse still, some weird hybrid that survives only for a few moments when released into the wild.
That the Strategic IT Framework should evolve in England is no coincidence. Organisations are beginning to realise that, to make sense of it all, they need to start with an over-arching, customer-focussed vision, delivering a range of generic services from a Strategic IT Framework.