An interesting thing happened while I was doing research for this article. I Googled “what is enterprise technology supposed to do?” and guess what I got? Short of some ads for Enterprise Rent a Car, not much. 

That’s right. Nothing useful. To be perfectly honest, I found it quite surprising. Was my question too vague or poorly worded?  

Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity write and speak about what ECM can deliver for organizations, always linking the answer back to enterprise goals and strategies. As a result I’ve had a front seat view of CIOs and CTOs debating how to transform their organizations using technology, CEOs and CMOs stating that technology will be their key differentiator in the global marketplace and business unit heads running “shadow IT” departments.

So why is it that my brethren in the blogosphere are not giving my very direct question a go? The answer, I think, is that no one really knows.

Change Afoot


It’s a very turbulent time to be running an IT department. IT is expected to do more than just provide information technology. Business units are looking to IT to help them realize their enterprise strategy and goals by becoming business-outcome-driven. At the same time, IT is moving away from a strictly centralized delivery model, becoming embedded into business units AND training business units to manage their own IT.

To your traditional IT department, used to control and more control, it’s all gone a bit pear-shaped. For the business units, life gets better, as IT moves in a business-positive direction. Both business units and IT are looking to enable and foster the access and management of information. Luckily, when there is a push-pull of forces of this nature, innovations emerge.

Let’s explore what trends are emerging from this creative chaos:

The Good:

  • Business-facing initiatives are high priority. IT needs to focus on delivering business value. In terms of ECM deployments, organizations are implementing high-impact processes around revenue-generating and/or revenue-protecting activities. These high-impact processes can be offered as part of the Enterprise Menu of Services, integrating Enterprise CMS into the “business of the business.”
  • For these efforts to be successful, IT and business units are learning how to communicate. Everyone is getting in the same room early and often, keeping the lines of communication open. In tandem with this, in order to “market” their enterprise menu offering, the role of IT is shifting to provide governance, brokerage services and an ecosystem to users.
  • Gartner tells us that “organizations are learning to focus on the information, rather than the technology.” The ontology of ECM is the document, and organizations are learning to treat documents just like data. This will ultimately help organizations eliminate traditional silos between information format types and the information it contains. We’ll be able to get right to the kernel of what is important -- information.

The (Slightly) Worrying:

  • With empowerment comes rogue IT. Staff members are going to build solutions on their own. These might consist of a spreadsheet solution for a LOB operation or a SharePoint site without the benefit of metadata. Procuring and provisioning technology is easier than it has ever been, but it is easy to make bad decisions. For each project ask yourself, “Would the business have decided to use us if someone else was bidding against us?”
  • Agility needs to be real, not theater. It’s easy enough to gesture at the idea of being agile, but it is agility, rather than market share, that will make businesses successful. Although it is difficult, if I were running IT, I’d put a lot of effort into making myself as nimble as possible. This will become increasingly important to service organizations. Your client base lives in an available world. They don’t care why you don’t have a service -- only that your competitor does.
  • Just because a technology can perform a function, doesn’t mean it should. So, you’ve got this spendy enterprise application that includes “extra” functionality. Some technologies claim to do EVERYTHING, but do very few things well. As an ECM vendor, I hear about this a lot. It translates to your users as “IT is standardizing on X and doesn’t care that I can’t use it.” Find out what the real needs of the user are and ensure the solutions you present deliver on them.

What enterprise delivery trends are you seeing? I’d love to hear your responses in the comments.

Image courtesy of iunewind (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: To read more by Kimberly, check out Three Steps to a Holistic Enterprise Technology Integration Strategy