PeopleSoft reveals the naked enterprise

Despite skepticism surrounding the future of the Internet, enterprises needn’t throw out the Internet baby with the dot-com bathwater, according to one University of Toronto professor.

Don Tapscot, author and adjunct professor of management at the U of T made the comment at a recent seminar sponsored by application provider PeopleSoft Inc. in Toronto. Tapscot made reference to the realities of creating today’s “naked enterprise” – a real-time organization where systems and business processes are transparent to customers, suppliers and trading partners as part of an extended enterprise.

“If you’re going to be naked, you’d better be buff,” Tapscot said, noting that the recent examples of corporate scandals including Enron and Worldcom have created a climate in mistrust and renewed calls for corporate accountability. This is where the era of the real-time enterprise and Internet architecture comes in, he added.

“It’s an idea whose time has come,” Tapscot said, adding that on-demand reports and real-time price discovery through real-time tools, such as those provided by PeopleSoft Canada, offer low latency, reduced transaction costs and always-on capabilities.

If the real-time enterprise is not yet reality, it soon will be, noted Christopher Hollow, an IT consultant for Toronto-based CGI Group Inc. Companies are carefully watching this space and anticipate making the transition, Hollow said.

It’s one that Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children (HSC) has already made. The facility announced that it is implementing a PeopleSoft application to assist with financial and supply-chain management systems automation. HSC has been a PeopleSoft customer since 1997, but is now planning to introduce a fully self-serve Web architecture environment.

John Aldis, business systems director, information services for HSC, said real-time access to integrated data would help the hospital rid itself of inefficient, paper-based and manual processes. The project will likely be online by early November, and a “minimally invasive” e-procurement solution is slated for a January 2003 rollout.

The biggest technical challenge for HSC, Aldis said, was dealing with multiple, disparate legacy systems. Wide and deep user access was problematic, Aldis said, as was an overreliance on IT for report development, high maintenance effort/costs and incompatibility with emerging technologies.

Although other vendor solutions feature higher functionality, PeopleSoft’s “comfortable” user interface and training support made for a better fit with the hospital, Aldis said.

The hospital culture is shifting to accommodate the new self-service format, Aldis said, benefiting in lower administration costs and always accessible information, including financial and health record information. The goal is to achieve transparent and integrated IT systems and processes.

“The transition [to real-time] is actually pretty easy…it really hasn’t been a struggle,” Aldis said, adding that “self-service is the name of the game.”

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