It's one thing to talk about IT as a strategic asset or a team player who wants to align with the business. It's quite another to make it happen-and it seems that when the rubber hits the road, many of you would rather whine about integration and drag your feet than actually step up your game.
And as a result, you're missing an opportunity to evangelize how data integration with external sources can cut costs and attract business.
Or, at least, that's what I took away from a recent InformationWeek article, "Why IT Needs to Push Data Sharing Efforts." But maybe I'm reading it wrong. Let's see, what did it say again? Oh yeah:
Sales, manufacturing, or merchandising tend to drive the decision to build new data sharing relationships with suppliers and customers. "They're usually the starting point and are a major factor in getting a program expanded," says Jim Frome, chief strategy officer at EDI software-as-a-service provider SPS Commerce. That trio historically doesn't have the greatest relationship with IT in many organizations, Frome says. Yet IT really needs to have an active role in educating the different teams about capabilities and options available both internally and externally. Unfortunately, IT doesn't typically get to play that role, or even tries to avoid it.
Nope. Apparently, I read it correctly. And it makes me want to bang my head against something until the reality stops.
That said, this is an excellent article, with great advice on how proactive CIOs can turn this situation around. It doesn't sound that hard, you're just going to have to:
- Stop taking months to handle a single integration-and if you need help on that, may I suggest you check out what John Schmidt and David Lyle have to say about lean integration?
- Stop buying the whine about inadequate standards. True, standards can be a problem, since vendors are likely to create their own at the least little hiccup, but the article contends there are standards robust enough to help you with most of the business basics.
- Partner with the CFO. The article identifies a new integration trend that CFOs will love.
- Stop thinking about integration as a project you have to do.
- Become an advocate for data integration as a strategic tool.
You know-the type of thing we advocate here all the time.
It's a must-read for any IT leader who hopes to do more than "just the basics." As the article points out, the markets and opportunities for external data sharing are growing every day. I'll grant you there are headaches and risks. But it seems inevitable that customers, business partners and internal staff will expect IT to support integration with external sources.
If you don't believe me, perhaps you'll believe IBM. The article contends the reason IBM recently spent $1.4 billion for Sterling Commerce is because the company knows there's money to be made from data sharing, and the resulting integration work.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go get an ice pack for my head.