When Too Much IT Knowledge Is a Dangerous Thing
In recent years, large companies have invested a great deal of money — and faith — in process-enabling information technology, IT that facilitates the execution of entire business processes rather than individual tasks. But all too often, such investments fail to pay off: The new systems fail to live up to expectations, register a measurable financial impact, improve work processes or bring about organizational change.
Technical snafus, a scarcity of good advice for managers and failure to follow such guidance are not the problems. The fundamental issue is that managers usually follow what amounts to a universal checklist, one that assumes that all implementations are basically alike. Taken as a whole, the list is merely a collection of undifferentiated findings and conclusions rather than a synthesis that would help with the particular implementation effort at hand. The executive in charge of the effort is left to discern which findings apply, under what circumstances and why.
Instead of a longer or different list, this article offers a synthesis that highlights how big IT implementations differ from one another and how managers should handle the differences in order to realize the full promise of technological change.