Trim the ‘spaghetti’ in IT systems before buying new technology: Expert

Spending on IT can be a pain — it’s a never-ending shelling out of cash.

On the other hand, it can be fun: “Look,” you can tell management, “I’ve got the latest (fill in the blank — cloud service, switch, call centre, mobile device management suite……..).”

But a leader of a European business school’s research arm says all that spending is worthless if your overall technology stack is an unrelated mess of  what he calls “spaghetti.”

That’s the message Nils Fonstad brought to an AT&T Canada customer event in Toronto on Thursday.

Fonstad is associate director the French-based Insead business school’s eLab. He was presenting the results of an international survey of 225 IT leaders sponsored by the global telecommunications provider into how IT helps make companies more competitive.

The results, he said in an interview, backed up the school’s other research.

Firms that described their IT platforms as immature who invested in new technology did not perform better statistically than organizations that spent little money, Fostad said.

“We identified a group of firms that were essentially wasting their investment in these new technologies (cloud, mobility and collaboration) if they were pursuing greater agility.”

The short survey proves “having a mature digitized platform is not simply beneficial, it’s a necessity. In today’s world its essential that firms not lose sight of what they’ve accumulated in the past as they strive to be more agile. They can’t focus on  the most promising new technologies. They have to keep in mind how those new investments relate to their past investments, both in terms of the technology, in terms of the (business) processes and in terms of the data.”

They’ll then be in a better position to exploit the technology, he added.

“CIOs understand, but most senior management teams don’t, that to invest in new technology doesn’t make an organization agile,” he said.

Ideally, IT leaders can take the survey results to management to explain why its important to have an enterprise architecture, and a conformance process for evaluating new IT products or services that staff demand.

He defines a mature digital platform as one in which the IT technology, business process and data components are standardized, shared and integrated.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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