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The CIO, stuck in the application labyrinth.

by Michael Maoz  |  March 12, 2009  |  Comments Off on The CIO, stuck in the application labyrinth.

Maybe out of all of the struggle to keep IT moving in a positive direction during a downturn, the CIO will better step up to the task of cutting back the applications kudzu. If you have ever lived on the eastern seaboard of the United States, you may be familiar with this highly invasive weed. It was originally viewed as an asset because it was an excellent way to prevent soil erosion. But then it became clear that while your soil was fine, your trees and garden were dying.

I’m getting a lot of calls about pruning the application landscape. It is hard to find the path or the roadmap through the application labyrinth. Webster’s says a labyrinth is “something extremely complex or tortuous in structure, arrangement, or character” and that is how I’d describe the IT organizations for most global companies. One of my clients told me last week that they had 15 contracts for the same application. It is a SaaS offering, and nine countries in Europe had purchased it separately, as had a couple in the US, Latin America, and Japan. Terrific – but by each line of business negotiating separately they never got the discounts or contract terms they would have gotten had they collectively negotiated. Nor do the systems work the same way. The sales management cannot even do a regional roll-up because each country has a separate process and account records.

I’d compare this to another client, who had this sign taped on her wall:

We communicate. the only attitude we bring is success, and we’re here for you
Agile engineering and the end of waterfalls!!!
Focus on customer-centric Solutions, composites apps and usability
We have two customers: the customer that buys our product, and the internal customer that sells to and supports that end customer
Strong administration and control does not mean we are bureaucrats.
Measure the value, re-measure the value. Start over.

You can quibble whether her points work for you, but listening to her approach to governance, iterative value, commitment to customer value and pragmatism, you just knew that the organization was focused, upbeat, and able to discuss in granular terms the whats and whys of every project.

A focus on customer – external first, and then internal. It is coming through as a winning approach.

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Michael Maoz
VP Distinguished Analyst
13 years at Gartner
26 years IT industry

Michael Maoz is a research vice president and distinguished analyst in Gartner Research. His research focuses on CRM and customer-centric Web strategies. Mr. Maoz is the research leader for both the customer service and support strategies area and customer-centric Web… Read Full Bio

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