Business Technology: A New Model For Global Business - InformationWeek
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Business Technology: A New Model For Global Business

It's time to scrap the old cornerstones on which were built the long-established model of how organizations use business technology. The first one of the three venerable standards is ERP, which stands at the center of the current model. The second is supply-chain management, which stands to the left or upstream of ERP. The third archetype is CRM, which takes its place to the right or downstream from the mother of all paradigms, ERP.

These have been wonderful, valuable, useful, and enduring representations that have, over the past decade or more, helped companies get their internal houses in order (ERP), their suppliers connected to those orderly organizations (SCM), and their customers at long last brought into the loop (CRM). And, to be sure, the fundamental business value within these categories and their places in the day-to-day infrastructure of global business will live on. But I think they no longer encompass the powerful vision or inspire the sweeping ideas needed to drive business -- and business technology -- in the 21st century.

I'd like to propose a new model, again represented by three key elements: at the center, Collaborative Business, an artful yet powerful network of technologies and business processes that by its very definition mandates your enterprise be not just within your four walls but reach out to your most far-flung suppliers' supplier and customers' customer. Upstream or to the left of that is Global Supply Management, which this week's cover story explores: It takes the mechanistic attributes of SCM and adds on more strategic capabilities, starting with such things as relationship and requirements management and extending all the way to implementation, where it blends smoothly into the collaboration model.

"You can't help falling under his spell," says a former employee of the tribunal who declines to be named. "He's very sharp and he's funny. It's sick, I know, given what he's there for, but he's so cynical and quick that he's had the courtroom in fits of laughter at times."

-- From The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 10, on the war-crimes trial of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic

The third proposed piece is Real-Time Business, and while its impact and reach extend across all facets of this new model, its real emphasis must be on a customer- and market-focused strategy that then defines everything else the company does, or plans to do, or decides not to do. Without this intimate and, yes, real-time knowledge of what customers and prospects want and need, none of the other stuff matters. And CRM isn't enough, because even its very name is misoriented: it is, after all, the customers who will manage the relationship, rather than being managed by the seller.

By recognizing that, and then by establishing business processes and strategies predicated on ensuring that your company moves at the speed of its customers and markets, Real-Time Business connects in with the central operational archetype of Collaborative Business and supplants CRM as the most-valuable way to perceive and pursue the revenue side of your business.

Agree? Disagree? Have a better idea? Or a fiery defense of the existing model? Let's make it a contest: pro or con, send your thoughts on this proposal to bevans@cmp .com and I'll pick the three best submissions. You can call me a knucklehead, but you've also got to show me why; or, tell me I'm a genius and bank on the theory that flattery will get you everywhere. The three winners will receive complimentary registrations to InformationWeek's Spring Conference, "Real-Time Business: Creating Visibility For Innovation," being held March 2 to 5 in Amelia Island, Fla. ( And it's just an ugly rumor that the first-prize winner gets a five-minute conversation with conference editor-in-chief Brian Gillooly while the second-prize winner gets 10 minutes and third-prize 30 minutes -- totally not true. But it is 100% true that you'll get to hear Dell and former Wal-Mart CIO Randy Mott, Procter & Gamble CIO Steve David, FedEx CIO Rob Carter, cyberspace security presidential adviser Richard A. Clarke, General Motors' CIO of North America, and many more brilliant speakers. We hope to see you there.

Bob Evans
Editor in Chief

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