In a recent trip to San Francisco, I was remarking to a tech executive that it seemed like the number of "for lease" signs in the office buildings had doubled since the last time I had been there. Even though the flow of venture capital is dismal, he proclaimed that now is the ideal time to start a company.
Think about it. Start fresh--no legacy systems to worry about, no complex integration to manage because of mergers, acquisitions, or a bunch of internal systems that don't communicate with each other, no messy retrofitting or exorbitant spending to meet new regulations, a large talent pool to hire from, and the ability to start with a corporate philosophy that profits actually matter. Oh, yeah, and cheaper office space.
But for "old" companies that have to deal with those kinds of things, it's also a good time to invest in IT for business innovation. Take a look at what the 100-year old VF Corp. is accomplishing ("New Fashion") as part of a large-scale effort to build a common systems architecture. Let me give you the net-net, so to speak. That is: Technology investment can separate the winners from the losers in a highly competitive industry.
Examples like this reinforce our belief that technology continues to drive business innovation. I bring that up because over the past few weeks we've discussed a recent Harvard Business Review story titled "IT Doesn't Matter," a shortsighted article about the significance of an industry that to many of us seems to have boundless innovation. I think it's worth noting that every day we see examples of how technology is being used to improve customer service, to create real-time businesses, and to enable a level of collaboration in supply chains that shrinks the world.
So I guess if you believe IT doesn't matter, you also believe eating chocolate shrinks your clothes.
The Business of Going DigitalDigital business isn't about changing code; it's about changing what legacy sales, distribution, customer service, and product groups do in the new digital age. It's about bringing big data analytics, mobile, social, marketing automation, cloud computing, and the app economy together to launch new products and services. We're seeing new titles in this digital revolution, new responsibilities, new business models, and major shifts in technology spending.