The fundamental challenge facing businesses today is to determine whether IT is the solution to problems, or is the underlying problem itself.
Where do you start? For the purposes of this book, we will begin with the problem of speed. The pace of business is quickening, no matter how large or small your company is or in what industry you compete.
For example, product life cycles are shrinking, as shown in Figure 2-1. Years of mature profitability have contracted into months, forcing product makers to move even faster to recognize new market opportunities, to tweak and compensate for changes in demand while the next new thing is still in the womb, and to begin planning the next revisions, spin-offs, or successors the moment next quarter's hit (you hope) is born.
All of this, in turn, accelerates the business from the very top in the CEO's office to the very bottom in the toll-free customer service trenches. If launching a new product is a function of executing a business process—that in turn is broken down into hundreds, if not thousands, of process steps—then a dramatic reduction in time to market or time to volume is possible only if the coordination of those steps becomes proportionately faster. And it is becoming faster. Historically, businesses have predicted time to transparency—i.e., the time between posting a transaction and propagating the data across the enterprise, up the supply chain, and onto the balance sheet—in weeks and months. ...