Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema knocked out a great book (The Discipline of Market Leaders) a few years back. In short, they opined that great companies make one of the following their defining competency:
– Customer intimacy (think Nordstroms)
– Operational excellence (think WalMart)
– Product Innovation (think Intel)
A colleague and I were at lunch the other day and we were wondering if great IT groups fall into similar groupings. We discussed two profiles that fit many of the clients we see and study. These groups are:
-The single, standardized IT group – These IT shops buy application software from one suite provider (e.g., Oracle or SAP). They have one computing stack and standardize on the same hardware, systems software, etc. to take advantage of scale and volume discounts. The major business objective of these IT departments is to be a low cost IT provider. These groups are all about new efficiencies and greater IT effectiveness. They’re also great at reducing IT costs. Their focus on cost reduction drives them to use offshore firms, independent contractors and specific outsourcing solutions whenever cost-justified. These are operationally excellent IT organizations.
– The diverse IT organization – In this IT world, every business unit/plant/division/location has its own technology – technology that is precisely dialed in to the specific operations and local requirements those entities need. The software and hardware is designed to optimize local operations. This IT environment is customer intimate. IT is absolutely focused on the delivery of outstanding, precise and tailored services to each of its business constituents…