It’s all just Business

For those who don’t know me – I work as an Enterprise Architect in Corporate ICT for Devon County Council – The challenge for an Enterprise Architect is to focus on the whole Business and not just the IT function or service – we are employed to facilitate Transformational Change across the whole Business. Not an easy job as such but a very interesting and challenging one.

So for me what I do is ALL about the Business of the County Council.

I have recently posted (a collaborative effort with Martin Howitt) on our team blog about the wider implications of the changing landscape of corporate ICT and how that effected our ability to realise cost savings to the scale we hear about and need to deliver.

But we must first address some key issues and get organisational acceptance to some basic building blocks of Effective and Efficient organisations.

IT offers no value on its own. It really is ALL about the Business. The people outside of IT (Business People) are the people in control of the organisation and they specify the priorities and direction through strategy. So why don’t they control IT more effectively? Why isn’t there one Governance stream in an organisation – Business Governance?

IT governance is really business governance. In many organizations, IT has led the way in implementing governance over critical decisions related to strategy, business architecture, investments, change, programs, risk and sourcing. Over time, organizations have realized that decisions in these areas need to be coordinated across the enterprise and have elevated and consolidated these activities outside and above IT.

Via – HBR – What does the future hold for IT?

In the team post we talk about how core IT competencies need to be mainstreamed into the Business. What we really mean by this is that Business Leaders should have the skills and competencies to procure IT solutions, manage IT contracts and drive value from the investments they make – not just in IT.

Another issue which is critical is how will the current Heads of IT or CIO’s deal with the current financial situation.

I see two options in local government:

  1. Drive cost savings, innovation and transformation in the organisation through radical approaches to ICT delivery and infrastructure.
  2. Play safe and wait for someone in the Business to make the decision for them

If I were a CIO or head of IT, i know which one i would rather opt for as Option 2 pretty much spells “outsourcing” to me.

The following presentation covers the CIO dilemma well and is worth checking out.

Measuring the Value on Investment

More thoughts in the aftermath of the Gartner Symposium in Cannes and the Exeter Likeminds Event.

I had heard the term Value on Investment (VOI) sometime ago, but it never really held much ground in my thinking, Although i’m surprised as it is something that is complimentary to Social Software projects and Knowledge Management Projects.

For those of you who haven’t come across VOI before i’ll try and explain the difference between VOI and ROI (return on investment). Return on Investment is based on return, which is generated by tangible outcomes, such as increases in productivity, increased revenues, cost reductions or entering new markets. VOI however focused on intangible benefits, in particular those related to technology based initiatives and for the purpose of this post consider Social Media/Social Software as key areas to focus on.

Gartner describe VOI using 5 measurable elements or outcomes. Value building initiatives change organisation dynamics by encouraging: (Hint: spot how many can be facilitated by social media and social software)

  • business process reinvention and innovation
  • cultivation, management and leveraging of knowledge assets
  • collaboration and increased capabilities to learn and develop communities
  • individual and organisational competencies
  • new kinds and levels of leadership

Don’t know about you but i’d tick all for social media and social software.

There is something you need to accept, however when measuring VOI. The more strategic the project the more value you will see in return.

When considering the current economic climate and situation, we should and must consider the VOI aspect as well as the ROI to achieve the level of organisational change that will future proof organisations for when we return to a growth scenario.

It also encourages greater alignment of IT and the Business, As the business needs to take the strategic advantage of the technology. IT alone offer no advantage to the business. To extract the value, the business would have to transform processes and practices, enhance knowledge sharing, establish communities of practice, develop competencies and provide tools for new leadership.

The strategic impact of social software will come over time with the cumulative effect of small projects impacting on the business and initiating change along the way.

My take on this really is that to succeed in the long term and to demonstrate the real value of social media and social software, it will take time, so be patient.  It will develop as each new project delivers results and value along the way.

This exact approach is how i realised the value. I started with twitter, then a blog, then started social bookmarking, then started sharing photos and so on. The cumulative effect of all of these choices have transformed the way i work, collaborate and engage with people.

So focus more on the Value and less on the Return – But ensure you measure both along the way.