This may be more of a rhetorical question, but recent web-poll results on our web page begs the question: if a company is struggling with its overall corporate strategy, is technology going to help?
First, a bit of background. Our company’s main page has been running an ongoing poll asking visitors what their biggest organizational challenge is. The results are interesting: 34% said lack of strategic direction, while 26% say the company operates in silos, and 17% blame process breakdowns. The remaining choices (poor IT systems, globalization, and employees are overworked) all received small portions of the votes.
The interesting thing about these results is that most visitors to our site are people in the ERP and IT communities who are looking to implement ERP or other large, enterprise-wide software. Our company does not tend to draw a lot of interest from companies that are looking to fix flawed strategies. Which leads me to believe that many companies that are either implementing or planning to implement large IT projects point to strategic direction as their biggest problem.
So the question is, then, is a new IT system going to help? It may help improve process breakdowns and start to remove silos within the organization, but it is certainly not going to help a company decide which strategic direction to go. It may provide better visibility to customers, vendors, and the overall supply chain and help drive better decision-making, but other than that, it is not going to replace a sound strategy.
In fact, the lack of a strong overall strategic direction is one of the biggest ERP and IT failure points and obstacles to benefits realization. Companies that have a clear strategic direction and vision typically are much more successful at implementing technology and realizing its benefits.