Web 2.0 is Really Your Friend
The first wave of Web 2.0 applications was met with caution in the enterprise. Neanderthal technology managers saw wikis, blogs, RSS filters, podcasts, mashups, folksonomies, crowdsourcing and virtual worlds as threats to their governance processes and, ultimately, their control over the technology.
The second wave of Web 2.0 applications is turning heads: wikis for training, blogs for customer service, crowdsourcing for innovation, RSS filters and folksonomies for content management and distribution, among many other creative uses of the technology. This is an opportunity on a silver platter. Take full advantage of it. Its fast and cheap perfect for the times.
Data Without Analytics is Useless
Many companies under-exploit their data. (Of course just as many have problems just finding and certifying their data.) But the real payoff is what the data tells us about manufacturing, distribution, customers, sales, marketing and service, among other activities core to the business.
The 3:1 rule is in effect here: for every dollar you spend on database management technology you should spent three on analytics. All DBMS investments should be vetted through analytics criteria.
Organizational Surgery is No Longer Elective
Objectively assess your organizational structure and effectiveness. Hows it working for you? Whos reporting to whom? Why? And how are they compensated?
Bold lines versus dashed lines are tricky. Make it clear who accounts to whom. Do you need a project management office (PMO)? How about a vendor management office (VMO)? You need a Business Relationship Center of some kind, and you need to populate the Center with kick-ass Business Relationship Managers the owners of the intersection of business requirements and technology solutions.
People assessment is always tough and always political: What do you mean my brother-in-law is an idiot? I guarantee you that my mistress is valuable: stop picking on her! The economic times provide all the air cover you will ever need to make tough people decisions. Take advantage of the times or wait until the next major downturn. Restructure things to accommodate the new technology and technology delivery models. Do you think that Web 2.0 technology and SaaS/HaaS require different operating and organizational protocols?
This is tough for the Nazis in your organization who thrive on total control, but decentralization is inevitable, not so much of infrastructure but definitely for applications that increasingly support global activities.
Standardization will be around architecture, like service oriented architecture (SOA)-based standards. Local technology support makes sense instead of tasking the home office to extend support to Asia, Latin America, Europe, North America, Central America, or anywhere else you need to go. Consider loosening the control on what the outposts do (and dont do). Consider relaxing some of the rules that apply to specific countries and regions.
Control has limits and we need to re-think the hammers we use to influence behavior. Remember that if local/regional/ national outposts have pure profit-and-loss (P&L) responsibility, then enterprise controls will be challenged at every turn. Maybe it makes sense to run from this debate. Grow people regionally rather than shipping them from home office to spend tours of duty around the world. The day IT arrives in a country or region is the day the in-country succession plan should begin.