Software // Enterprise Applications
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5/3/2002
07:33 PM
Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl
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Editor's Note: Collaborative Business: Getting To The Point

If you're a regular reader, you know that we've been spending a lot of time covering the strategies, the benefits, the risks, and the rewards of collaborative business. Anyone who has succeeded at collaboration probably experienced some pain along the way, but is likely stronger because of it (what's that saying about what doesn't kill you makes you stronger?). Collaboration, of course, is critical both inside the corporate walls-among CEOs, CIOs, and line-of-business managers-and outside, with suppliers, customers, partners, and perhaps even competitors.

Recently, InformationWeek set out to study the collaborative decision-making efforts among CIOs, CFOs, and CEOs. What I found very interesting isn't the fact that these teams work more closely than ever, but just how much they speak each other's language. When asked what the components of a successful business case are, 41% of CIOs say they "solve or meet the needs of business customers." But the majority of CEOs rank "reliable, scalable, compatible products" at the top of the list.

That's great news, especially when you consider that in many companies, reaching a consensus or agreeing on a strategy can be a long and laborious process. And it can mean the difference between capitalizing on a new business opportunity and project failure.

If Dave Allman had it his way, he would insist that all companies explain the value of an IT initiative and the alignment of priorities in, say, a single page. Easier said than done, I know, but Allman, who heads a firm called Knowledge-Advantage Inc., says too many initiatives fail not because they're bad ideas, but because people and groups don't articulate the value (the why, what, and especially the how) before they begin. Yes, there are zillions of financial-modeling techniques out there, but if you can't clearly state the value of an initiative, can you really expect it to succeed, he asks?

I'm not trying to sell Allman's consulting services, but I think his ideas underscore the fact that clear articulation and effective collaboration within a company can lead to all sorts of tangible and intangible value, especially when time is precious and dollars are few.

There's value in that philosophy for technology sellers, too. As one CIO noted recently, he's tired of vendors saying "let's sit down so that I can understand your strategic direction and talk to you about my products." He'd rather hear "I understand your business and this is how I can improve it."

Stephanie Stahl

Editor

sstahl@cmp.com


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