When I look back on some of the processes I was involved in establishing and automating 15 years ago, I can see that a lot of work has been done. Some of these processes had enormous budgets and is still going strong. But overall, only two main events occurred that is notable.
The first was the move from manual or semi digital processes to fully automated workflows. This was big. Business processes that we first adopted resulted in market share growth that was impressive. It was a game changer, but it was not a sustainable advantage. Most competitors caught onto this within 18 months, mostly by automating that part of their process that was most negatively affected.
The second was the trend of outsourcing non-core functions. Though there were also bureau services, once the platform became digital, it was easier and faster to negotiate contracts and set up service agreements with service providers for outsourcing activities. Most organisations gained a lot by outsourcing activities that were not really part of their core business. I did not see this work where the targeted business activity was ring-fenced, privatised and outsourced. It just lacked that sense of entrepreneurship required to really make a success.
But other than that, most things were incremental and mostly hot air. Big vendors make lots of promises. Nothing really changed. SOA came. It had a big impact where it was implemented by business but the adoption is still slow. BI came, but most organisations still struggle to get their basic visibility up and going.
If I look back, I notice that most of these big trends was packaged into IT products and marketed to the CIO. I’d say it was a big mistake. If there is one thing I believe is that we would have done better if we had a different approach or different boundaries for the CIO / CEOs in the business. Business needed a much better understanding of IT, and needed to take the lead in IT application.
Business Departments used to have HR to manage resources and IT to manage technology. But they gave a lot more responsibility to IT than they did to HR. Business leaders, especially in the operational space should rapidly start leading where technology is concerned.