Reimagining the Reengineering Dilemma

By Christian Buckley posted 07-12-2013 19:54


"Companies in all industries are building online businesses, enabling new customer experiences, experimenting with "big data," and seeking advantage in a digitally enabled business environment. They have tried reengineering their practices; they have set up new technological platforms for customer engagement and back-office efficiency. But these efforts have not yet had the impact that they should. Instead of reengineering, they need reimagining. They need to conceive of their business freshly, in line with the capabilities that digital and business technologies can give them, connecting to customers in ways that have not been possible before."


(from the article "Don't Reengineer. Reimagine" by Schumacher, MacGibbon, and Collins in Strategy+Business, Summer 2013)


Organizational shifts are constant. Some will decry that too much change negatively impacts morale and affects an organization's ability to succeed, while others will claim that creative destruction is a necessary part of modern business. One thing is for certain -- the speed at which technology is changing the way we do business is increasing, with the lifecycle of new tools and business practices getting shorter and shorter. Look to some of the largest and most successful companies in the world, like Microsoft, Google, and Apple, and you will find increasingly agile processes and efforts to make organizations more nimble and responsive to the rapid changes happening around us.


The most difficult aspect of these changes, as alluded to by Schumacher, MacGibbon, and Collins, is to make meaningful changes -- and not just shuffle the chairs. Do the changes you make help position your company to better respond to competitive threats, to deliver products and services more quickly, or to more quickly identify the shifting industry trends, synthesize the data, and use this information to innovate? With what we know about how the nature of collaboration is changing right in front of our eyes, are we reimagining the way in which we serve our employees and our customers, or simply reengineering what is already in place today?


This question has been on my mind all week, just coming back from Houston and Microsoft's annual Worldwide Partner Conference during which the company announced some major organizational changes and restructuring to enable the company to be more agile and better respond to the rapidly changing world of cloud computing. But going into WPC, I had been thinking about the June Executive Leadership Council (ELC) events in Chicago and London, and the shared results of a panel of board members to look at AIIM's own focus.


In some ways, the two organizations are on similar paths of self-discovery. Both are trying to figure out the right path forward with the cloud -- and both are already feeling the impacts of the move toward the cloud, and specifically of the rise of social collaboration.


The concern in both cases is whether the changes being discussed will be sufficiently deep enough to affect real change. There was a lot of talk at the AIIM London event about the differences between "systems of record" and "systems of engagement," but not every member participating in the workshop seemed to be comfortable with that change. What makes these kinds of discussions difficult is that most members are heavily invested in solutions and business practices around these "systems of record" -- that is what their businesses are built on, and why they are members of AIIM. To say now that the focus of the organization should shift more toward "systems of engagement" feels to many members as a move away from the core of AIIM. However, the reality is that the two models are inseparable, and whether or not member companies are prepared for this shift toward cloud-based infrastructures and social collaboration-focused user experiences, these things are increasingly the way that customer organizations are accessing those systems of record.


Similarly for Microsoft, there is no option but to push for change -- both to how they develop and deliver products, as well as how partners interact with them. The market is moving forward regardless, and their competitors have been better able to follow and act on these market changes -- and now Microsoft must step in an reimagine their business processes, or watch their years of leadership and innovation dissolve. And they must do it in a way that educates their existing customers and partners, brining as many along with them as possible.


And that's where both Microsoft and AIIM will succeed or fail -- in their ability to not only reimagine their own strategies, but to do so with their partners, customers, and (for AIIM) members intact. In my SharePoint writings, I often use the example that the most successful deployment of SharePoint, even with all requirements, budgets, and timelines met, will be viewed as a failure if end users do not adopt it. Similarly, Microsoft's reengineering will ultimately fail if they do not architect their changes in a way that brings their partners along with them. And AIIM's re-branding and reimagining will fail if they do not take into account the concerns of the systems-of-record partners who made it what it is today, using their perspectives to help shape their future strategy.


The more you involve people in the process, the more people will accept the end result. It's true for project teams, it's true for customers, and it's true for partners.

#SharePoint #reengineering #processimprovement #AIIM #microsoft #strategy #Collaboration