Enterprise IT Investment: Fixing What's Broken

Forbes - Paul Martyn

Far too many CEOs have had their careers marked with the ERP asterisk. Questions concerning project budgets and whether the efforts were justified have become almost rhetorical. Despite how aggressively the C-Suite and ERP vendors worked together to control the narrative, outrageous cost overruns and epic failures shape the history.

What has been learned? Is it time again to scrap systems that actually work in favor of ones that may perform better? ERP systems have their place. They address the core system functions common to most businesses, and several do it quite well, but where a business needs to support a rapid pace of change, in venues of differentiation where a company is looking for a competitive edge, the ERP complex can be a “ball and chain” undermining the speed of business. Too often the tail ends up wagging the dog.

Rather than waiting for their core platform vendors to “deliver it all” or handing too much over to a single mega-consulting services firm, the visionaries of yore and the thought leaders of today share an “integration culture.”  While some might view it as a palliative mindset, those that have made the commitment have literally sewn the rewards. And with technology life cycles being what they are (i.e. endless and circular), unless a functional gap is identified or an entirely new business process is required, does a viable curative approach even exist?

Given the advent of cloud computing, these forward thinking companies are remarkably positioned to have their cake and eat it too. They can tap into the bells and whistles of modern, cloud-based solutions while remaining committed to their large on-premise ERP deployments. They can rollout more flexible, scalable cloud based applications to subsidiaries, acquired entities and satellite offices without confounding the data integration and confederation that happens back at the mothership.

“The cloud doesn’t need to be seen as a binary decision. It’s not a ‘yes or no’ or ‘allow or block’ world,” said Sanjay Beri CEO and founder, Netskope. “There are now tools and capabilities that allow IT to enable the cloud securely in any number of environments, specific to unique requirements, thanks to the ubiquitous nature of APIs.” So, with leading analyst firms spending most of 2016 effectively debunking cloud based security concerns, has the gold rush started?

While I agree with Mr. Beri and the analysts, I do so with a caveat --a fundamental beef I have with the philosophy of “rip and replace”-- which is why statements made by Matt Stewart, managing partner of system integrator RiseNow, caught my attention. RiseNow’s message is centered on extending the value of legacy ERP, not replacing it. The firm is not opposed to modern, value adding third party solutions. It’s just saying that IT leadership should sharpen its make vs. buy decision process and embrace hybrid environments as an opportunity. If assessed accurately, legacy problems can often be fixed and/or incremental improvements can be made with less disruption and more cost effectively by implementing a point solution addressing the specific problem areas.

Although RiseNow’s message applies across industry... More