Embracing Situational IT
By Tanu Sood on Aug 07, 2013
Rick Beers is Senior Director of Product Management for Oracle Fusion Middleware. Prior to joining Oracle, Rick held a variety of executive operational positions at Corning, Inc. and Bausch & Lomb.
With a professional background that includes senior management positions in manufacturing, supply chain and information technology, Rick brings a unique set of experiences to cover the impact that technology can have on business models, processes and organizations.
Rick will be hosting the IT Leaders Editorial on a regular basis.
Confession: I am neither a technologist nor a long term IT professional, having spent the first two thirds of my 40 year career in manufacturing and supply chain, before first entering IT in 1997 as the supply chain technology lead in a global ERP roll-out. I still remember my early impressions of the IT profession, both positive and negative. To be clear: I see many more of the former than the latter; this is an industry that thrives on energy, innovation and the creation of new and disruptive things that change the way we live, work and play.
I did, however, have two critical observations at the outset though that have stayed with me for the past 15 years:
During my manufacturing years I was trained in ‘Situational Leadership’, popularized in the late 1970’s by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard, co-authors of the Management of Organizational Behavior. This ground breaking research, now in its 10th edition, holds that there is no clear right or wrong style of leadership; that effective leadership is often defined to one’s surroundings such as organization, tasks and culture. Oh, to be certain, there are standardized norms with which we all must comply, both legal and ethical, but beyond those, our behavioral norms and the situation involved guide how we lead. Might this also extend to the way we manage technology?
I considered this the other day when I was going through my archives and came across a December 2009 white paper from PricewaterhouseCoopers entitled The Situational CIO. It left a strong impression on me then and is still relevant today. Information Technology management is simply not a binary exercise, as most CIO’s instinctively realize. In observing that CIO’s must continually navigate between three apexes: IT Operations, Sourcing & Orchestration, and Strategy, the research quickly focuses its attention on a key constraint facing CIO’s, the growing impact of earlier generation, inflexible enterprise systems in situational world:
“At least that’s (re: navigating between the three apexes) the theory. The reality is that keeping the lights on will remain difficult for years to come, given the billions of dollars worth of installed systems that cannot simply be swapped for the standard, turnkey tools that vendors are promising. Yet the CIO who stays too focused on these technologies will be in danger of becoming obsolete or unemployed. Keeping the lights on is expected but not valued until big problems occur, in which case the company usually looks for a new CIO.” (The Situational CIO: IT Problem Solver, Cost Cutter, Strategist. PricewaterhouseCoopers, December, 2009).
It is for reasons such as this that Oracle’s Fusion Middleware team is this month launching Oracle AppAdvantage, an external program focused upon ”the incremental value gained by Oracle Applications customers with Oracle Fusion Middleware”.
Due to the breadth and depth of Oracle Fusion Middleware platform, and the fact that it is increasingly compatible with Oracle Applications including E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, JDEdwards, Siebel and Oracle’s core Industry applications such as Oracle Health Sciences E-Clinical Solutions and our Oracle Banking Platform, enterprises now have an achievable opportunity to continually navigate the need to simultaneously lower costs, create business value and realize their strategic visions.
With AppAdvantage, Oracle customers can maximize the value of Oracle Applications with Oracle Fusion Middleware by adopting a pace layered approach.
1. Standardize and consolidate core Enterprise Applications, removing invasive customizations and costly workarounds.
2. Move business specific processes and applications to the Differentiate Layer, thus creating greater business agility with process extensions and best of breed applications managed by cross- application process orchestration.
3. Drive business innovation by connecting people, information, and applications anywhere, anytime. Treat this as an Innovation Layer, with capabilities that transform organizations
4. Simplify IT by minimizing complexity, improving performance and lowering cost with secure and reliable systems across the entire Enterprise.
For an extended view on this subject read the whitepaper I just finished: IT – Business Alignment Why We Stumble and the Path Forward. Next month I’ll be discussing AppAdvantage in more detail and how we’ll be showcased at Oracle Open World.