Magazine Article | December 1, 2000

Let's Talk Strategy

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

Twelve months after the biggest IT buildup in history, companies still have plenty of IT issues to address. This year, however, the answers will be much more complicated than choosing the right ERP (enterprise resource planning) vendor.

Integrated Solutions, December 2000

My, how things have changed in 12 months. At this time last year, you were probably logging 20-hour days and barking orders from your fortified Y2K war room. However, the end of the world came and went without even a whimper. Sure, there was the occasional shopper who received a credit or debit for some outrageous sum of money. But, even that story was relegated to the back end of the evening news.

While the fate of mankind is not hanging in the balance this year, the technology choices you make in 2001 will certainly determine the fate of your company. In many ways, Y2K made decisions much easier for companies. If a system wasn't Y2K-compliant, then it was replaced. Instead of tediously rewriting code to update legacy systems, companies opted for ERP (enterprise resource planning) implementations. Then came the onslaught of software applications that integrated with ERP systems. Chief among these were WMS (warehouse management system) and CRM (customer relationship management) solutions.

In the next 12 months, however, your IT decisions will not be nearly as cut-and-dried. You knew you needed ERP, WMS, and CRM systems. All that was left was to choose the right vendor. This year's IT decisions will be much more complex.

What Role Will Wireless Technology Play?
The question CIOs will have to answer this year is, "How can my company best leverage this technology?" This is a much different question than, "Which vendor offers the best product and price points?"

Wireless computing was the one technology that everyone was talking about at both Frontline Solutions 2000 and Gartner's Symposium/ITxpo 2000. To be sure, this technology deserves the hype paid to it by vendors. It will be a critical technology that will take center stage in 2001, but how can your company best benefit from it?

Should your company pay for Palm VII PDAs (personal digital assistants) and roll them out to the workforce? Should your company invest in portal technology that allows users to access enterprise information through one wireless interface? Should you invest in software that allows wireless system administrators to monitor the status of enterprise data? What role will Bluetooth technology play in your company as this technology evolves? These are all questions that your company will have to answer as it moves forward in the coming year.

Integrating New Applications
Another watchword for 2001 will be EAI (enterprise application integration). This is your opportunity to overcome the shortcomings of your chosen enterprise system. It's your chance to implement new B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) applications. EAI allows you to take advantage of the proliferation of wireless and Internet-based applications that are appearing on the IT landscape.

While you may have thought that a new ERP system was a panacea for all things, you now know this is hardly the case. With some tweaking, it handles all of a company's inward-facing enterprise processes. However, it probably falls pretty short in handling outward-facing applications that are now critical to a company's survival.

You may feel a little sheepish explaining to the CFO that the expensive and painful ERP implementation, though complete, is still lacking some critical functionality. However, a conversation about why your competition is overtaking your company would be much more uncomfortable.

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