Strategy Trumps Technology Every Time

By Joe Shepley posted 03-16-2011 22:48


Last week Pie broached the subject of whether you could have an enterprise content management (ECM) strategy without ECM technology:

You can’t buy Enterprise Content Management. You can buy products that support an ECM Strategy, but without a blueprint, it is just a bunch of stuff…The thing is, you don’t need an Enterprise CMS Platform to implement an ECM Strategy. Heck, you can do it with what you have now.

I’ve offered my two cents on this issue elsewhere and definitely agree with him, not only for ECM but for E2.0 as well.

And keeping in the spirit of provocation that’s animated my last two posts here, I wanted to push this idea of implementing an E2.0 strategy without technology a little further, maybe even past the boundaries of what most folks would find reasonable in order to see where it gets us.

So here goes:E2.0 technology implementations without an E2.0 strategy will almost always fail, but an E2.0 strategy without technology will almost always succeed.

A technology implementation becomes self-justifying

The tactical, short-term concerns during an implementation have more to do with getting the environment up and running, closing all bugs during testing, and successfully launching the solution—none of which will intrinsically deliver value to the organization. And if the goals and aims of the technology solution are unclear or poorly chosen, delivering it may actually subtract value.

There is never time to do all the things that are required during an implementation to get the solution up and running, let alone things that are not. Program level activities like policies and procedures tend to fall by the wayside when the implementation gets hot—heck, even tactical things related to the implementation like user interface and training and communication get dropped, so what chance do the strictly program activities stand of getting done?

The fire that cannot be quenched

What about after go live? Things are as bad if not worse because either (1) all the stuff that got dropped from release 1.0 to make the project deadline is now top priority or (2) application problems have now transitioned from being considered project issues to being considered production issues (with all the increased severity and attention that brings), or both.

Given this, good luck getting folks to pay attention to program activities.

Here’s the deal

We all know that technology cannot succeed without the people-process work that scaffolds it, but we often overlook the fact that the same people-process work can succeed without technology (although in a more limited way).

If you want to get your finances straightened out, buying Quicken and changing nothing else will be a colossal failure (other than enabling you to see your poor financial decision making in full-color charts). You need to change the people-process aspects of your finances for Quicken to make a difference…but if all you did was address the people-process side of things and skipped the software, you would still benefit.

The same is true for E2.0 (and for ECM as well).

After all, if you don’t have a technology implementation to think about, you’ve got lots of cycles to focus on things like delivering value to the business—which is what you should be solely focused on anyway.

Admittedly, without a technology platform to implement, you’ll be achieving business value through quick hit, lo-fi, people-process means, but who cares?

When you succeed, you’ll be head and shoulders ahead of most technology projects in terms of realized value to end users…and you’ll have spent lots less money.

The final word

So there you have it: you’re better off without technology if you’re not going to approach E2.0 strategically—just forget about doing anything.

But if you can motivate your organization to approach E2.0 strategically, it’s a win-win: if you get money for technology, you’ll be in great shape, but if you get no money for E2.0 technology, you’ll still make headway versus where you’d otherwise be.

Not sure what’s coming next week, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue—stand up and defend IT, throw some cold water on my fanboy devotion to the cult of strategy, or just share your own experience trying to do the right thing for your organization with technology and strategy…let’s get the conversation started!

#e2.0 #strategy