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Darren Atkins's picture

Destination Future State

What do BYOD, wearable technology and Shadow IT have to do with each other and ERP? Major technology trends are impinging on and impacting IT in the businesses we serve and to which we belong. Automation is doing more with less. Mix that in with new gadgets, consumerism, more bandwidth and Cloud. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a recipe for disaster, but it’s definitely a new landscape that is all about choices and personalization.

Mobile devices, BYOD, and wearable technology will have an impact on IT departmentsBYOD (Bring Your Own Device) refers to the proliferation of smartphones (mine’s of questionable IQ), tablets, and everything in between that people are bringing into their work environment—not necessarily part of the master plan—with limited if any IT structure, policy or regulation around it. Wearable technology will just be another form of the anytime, anywhere, always on trend.

Shadow IT falls in a similar category but includes unsanctioned solutions that are used to perform work not being done by the primary business systems, such as little homegrown programs and databases. Even some very intricate Excel solutions can be categorized as such. These can be rampant in larger organizations and very difficult to uproot.

The Cloud and increased bandwidth provides the opportunity to leverage mobility and extended applications, which is all great until a business or organization launches an initiative to become more efficient, eliminate duplicate entry, have one source of the truth, make data repositories consistent and available—the list goes on.

Five to ten years ago we were maybe just dealing with an old ERP or accounting system plus maybe one other system and some random spreadsheets tucked away in a desk drawer, and we had to somehow bring that all together to eliminate the islands of information. Then, for a while, it was ERP II or some extensions outside the four walls of the typical business to include internets, intranets, CRM and other forms of business connectivity. Today, it’s becoming that to the tenth power on steroids with the bad side effects. The challenges to somehow bring it all together and forge the one ring to rule them all (ERP) has nearly become a notion of the past. Interestingly enough, another way to fill in the IT gaps via the ERP systems has been through customizations and add-ons, which have presented their own issues when it comes to upgrades.

IT is no longer just connecting computers to a server down the hall to go kick when it’s not working, so no offense to those who live there, but we’re not in Kansas anymore, and while Oz looks all shiny and new, our IT challenges have magnified and multiplied. When you really get down to it, the current state of a business can look ugly and messy. To really be successful changing the jet engine mid-flight today requires the following :

  • A thorough analysis of the business goals and objectives, i.e., where are we headed on our journey?
  • Elicitation of stakeholder requirements, i.e., what do users really need to efficiently perform their work?
  • Determination of functional and non-functional solution requirements, i.e., what do we need the solution(s) to be able to do, and what are their qualities or characteristics?

Add to the above some major risk management, time, resource and budget constraints (do we have enough fuel for the journey?). If done well, with some good solutioning – connecting back the dots from solutions to requirements, managing change, making course corrections along the way—it is possible to have a safe journey, or at least arrive in one piece. Of course, it all has to be deployed well, in proper sequence, tested and verified.

Today, there is no single solution, but the prize will go to those who can appreciate the fact that one system cannot be all things to all people, who can analyze their situation and who can select and connect the various solutions and devices from the expanding technology universe that best fit their business’s case scenarios. It can be even tougher to find partners who can be solution-agnostic and have your best interests at heart. It’s not an easy equation and requires strong team collaboration and leadership coupled with good processes and resources to arrive at destination future state.

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