All this points to our overarching challenge: What's the right strategy for integration between the two camps of the IT world that Geoffrey Moore so kindly divided for us? The older I get, the more I'm a fan of simplicity, and this balancing effort is no different. Treating this like a true collaborative assessment effort makes a lot of sense: evaluating the tools, processes, economics, and risk profiles first and making logical road maps to move forward. Most important, these two worlds will not stay segregated forever. In fact, in the next few years both will simply become features of broader, more robust, and more social systems that govern our businesses.
In the interim, there are immediate wins for the IT organization in honing the process for -- and exchange of data between -- systems of record and engagement. We spend a ton of time evaluating and optimizing systems on their technical merit, but we need to start investing in the evaluation of how they serve the business. Rather than trying to replace, retrofit, or overlap, look at how the underlying data is captured and utilized. I'll bet you'll find more than a few places where similar or identical data is being captured three or more times to serve different purposes. Workday has become the darling of HR systems by mastering this exact notion during implementation, and it's displacing huge swaths of budget in the process. Nothing adds up faster than resource costs, and by looking closely at how data and process dovetail, you'll add value quickly and in meaningful amounts.
Another big win comes from the optimization of both environments using cloud services to bridge capability gaps. The business loves any CIO that speaks to a strategy of "cloud first" solely on the merit of using a buzzword people enjoy hearing. They feel warm and safe and confident their IT group is headed in the right direction. Use this to your advantage, and start investing in the transactional and data analysis capabilities the cloud can offer both sets of systems. This middle ground also lets you (safely) experiment and innovate quickly with a variety of business units and demand sets, while maintaining a run rate of cost that's in line with expectations.
There's a lot more to this discussion and many additional ideas to share, but in today's market there's little downside to taking advantage of the opportunities presented by evaluating your systems of record and engagement. The unifying solutions are available, the business is demanding new capabilities, and you have the opportunity to significantly affect the run rate cost of IT in the process.
Just remember, like so many other endeavors of the IT organization, your "solution" will always be superseded by the need for the business to get things done. Keep that thought at the top of your priority list.
This article, "Turn your business inside out," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read Michael Voellinger's Smart Leader blog each week for insights on managing IT in the modern era. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.