Chapter 10. Technology: Panacea or Pain?


Alas, technology has not allowed us to see into the future any more clearly than we could previously.

 --Alan Greenspan

Picture the scene—the chief executive officer (CEO) paces a conference room, brandishing a thick report. He gazes impatiently at his senior managers. "You've all read this," he says. "Top-shelf consultants. Two million bucks. Pure strategic thinking. This could put us years ahead. The board is psyched. I'm psyched. It's a brilliant plan. One question: Given our current technology, is this implementable?" The response, from five different chairs in the room: "No." The CEO looks frustrated but not surprised.

This scene is not drawn from an executive suite but from a television advertisement for IBM that ran in early 2002. It accurately captured much of the frustration managers feel about the gap that exists between the promise of technology and the reality. But things are changing fast. Technology is no longer the main impediment to realizing the true value of best practices in performance management.

Holy Grail, silver bullet, or sinkhole? For years, technology has been seen as both the engine and the enemy of effective planning and management reporting. After all, automating inefficiency just gives you bad data faster. Billions of dollars have been spent on technology, and Alan Greenspan's statement remains as true today as it was then, yet the appetite for new technology continues largely unabated. Notwithstanding the global ...

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