In the years ahead we will witness a massive transformation of business. As with a giant earthquake, this will bring with it the most dramatic and rapid business changes we have ever experienced.
The corporate landscape will change in ways never before thought possible.
We will see the demise of corporations that are household names today: if not as financial debris assigned to history, then as takeover victims of competitors who saw the signs – and then acted
first to survive and to prosper. This is not a prediction of the distant future: it will happen within ten years – maybe less.
There will be an Armageddon unparalleled in corporate history. It will affect all industries and every organization: Private Sector, Public Sector and Defense. The fault lines are shifting; pieces
are locking into place; the pressure is building …
Read no more, and become part of that discarded historical debris. Or read on to learn how you can survive and even prosper; perhaps to become one of the giants of tomorrow.
To understand the impact of the coming competitive maelstrom, we must review the effect that technology has had on the computer industry. IBM first ruled that industry in the 60’s: the decade of
large mainframes. But IBM sadly misjudged the effect that minicomputer technologies would have on its mainframe markets in the 70’s; Digital Equipment snatched the lead from them in that market
shift. With its size, IBM again grasped the lead in the 80’s with microcomputer technology: but relinquished it to Microsoft and Intel in the late 1980’s … who have owned the desktop through
to the present.
These technologies are all part of the First Era of the Information Age, described in “Paradigm Shift” by Tapscott and Capston.
The Second Era is now upon us: its catalyst is the Internet and the corporate Intranet. The tremors can be felt now; the quake is about to hit – perhaps sooner than even Tapscott and Capston
expected. This paper addresses the steps that we should all take, to survive and ensure we are part of that future.
The Internet and Intranets
From 1995 we have seen rapid growth of the Internet and Intranet. From initial steps, with static Web sites to promote or inform, organizations are now about to embrace the Internet as a vehicle
for Electronic Commerce. Enterprises will sell to a global marketplace. The low costs involved are a great equalizer; even small organizations will have a potential market presence previously
attainable only by the largest enterprises.
Small companies will prosper; large ones will stagger and fall as the Davids sweep many of the Goliath’s from the earth. This is not inevitable; but for organizations that fail to act now, it will
come to pass … as surely as night follows day.
One example of a likely survivor, perhaps a winner in this tomorrow, is Federal Express. Physical products sold on the Internet must still be delivered to end-customers. FedEx can see massive
growth in shipping – which is their business. Taking the initiative they now offer free, to merchants who sell products to their own end-customers, their BusinessLink software. They thus become an
integral part of their own customers’ delivery channel. Other examples abound, in transportation and other industries, of organizations that are already grasping the many opportunities presented
by the Internet.
As other enterprises also add value in the services they deliver to their customers, by using Internet technology proactively, we will see one of the greatest market shifts in corporate history
… it will be a competitive Armageddon.
The Need For Action
On the Internet, many business processes need to change: in fact they will change radically. We will find that only thing stable tomorrow … will be CHANGE itself. But reorganizations that
take months or systems development projects over years are not fast enough. Action is the key.
Organizations must design for change; to be able to survive they must change rapidly, and often. One Critical Success Factor is to align systems with strategic goals. This is not a technology
problem, it is a business problem: a problem of great concern to senior managers. We cannot just do the same, only faster. Instead these systems must be driven by strategic goals.
Success comes from using IT as a competitive weapon, based on strategic directions. Management leadership is the second Critical Success Factor.
These two CSFs are vital in defining a Strategic Technology Plan for action. This plan is readily defined for each organization. What has been missing has been a sense of urgency; recognition by
senior management of the need to act.
Strategic Technology Plan
An organization’s Strategic Technology Plan is a competitive blueprint for the future based on its Corporate Plans – from which systems can be built that are aligned with strategic directions.
To succeed, this needs input from the senior managers and planners who set directions. This investment in time is hard, yet it is vital for Internet and Intranet success. Over two days, lead by a
Facilitator, jointly they develop an initial corporate blueprint, called a Business Model. Its catalyst is the organization’s Mission, Goals, Key Performance Indicators, Strategies, and current
and potential Markets; discussed in: “Developing a Strategic Technology Plan”.
As an architect designs a building and develops plans for its construction, over the next three to four weeks the Facilitator, plus assigned IT staff, develops a Strategic Technology Plan and its
Report from that initial Business Model.
This plan is used to identify business areas that will benefit from using Internet and Intranet technologies. Data bases and business processes, hardware and software technologies needed by those
business areas are identified in the plan. This is documented in a Strategic Technology Report for review by senior management, to identify priority business area projects.
Systems for these priority areas can then be built rapidly using Internet / Intranet technologies, as discussed in: “The Internet and Intranets: The Status Today and Reality Tomorrow”.
These systems, once built, can be changed easily – and fast. Thus as the enterprise changes to compete, its systems also change – so they can continue to provide the required enterprise support.
History is a harsh teacher, as said: “those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it!” But Microsoft will not emulate IBM and Digital; it will not lose its lead in this technology
In his Dec 7, 1995 Comdex address, Bill Gates announced to the world that Microsoft planned to embrace the Internet totally. To Product Managers within Microsoft he offered a simple choice:
“Change your projects to implement this direction, or plan now to disband them!”
As a large company that is lead strongly by a hands-on visionary, Microsoft has transformed itself in 12 short months to embrace the Internet and the Intranet.
I believe that history will look back on this change as a textbook example of how to capture market opportunities with new technology. Microsoft will be a survivor in the Second Era of the
Information Age and will continue to be one of the market leaders. By following the message in this paper, you too will be a survivor – and perhaps also a leader in your industry.
Clive Finkelstein is the “Father” of Information Engineering (IE), developed by him from 1976. He is an International Consultant and Instructor, and Chief Scientist of Visible Systems Corporation
in the USA. He is the Managing Director of Information Engineering Services Pty Ltd (IES) in Australia and of Visible Systems Australia Pty Ltd.
The IES web site is at – http://www.ies.aust.com/~ieinfo/. The Online Store and Visible Australia web sites are at http://bne002i.webcentral.com.au/catalogue/visible/default.shtml and also at
http://www.visible.com.au/ respectively. The Visible Systems Corporation web site is available from http://www.visible.com/.