Dec 04, 2009 (07:12 PM EST)
Practical Analysis: Pundits, Facts, And Competing Goals

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IT and its enterprise customers take their inspiration from different sources, and the unchecked result can cost you big time.

One challenge is that most of what IT does is foundational, laying the groundwork for vital corporate functions ranging from collaboration to protecting intellectual property to nurturing customers. When systems work right, it's usually because teams of people who know a whole lot about very technical topics have worked together to make things work right. IT pros can usually tell in an instant when a self-proclaimed expert has never built a virtual machine, installed an app, configured a router, managed a database, or set up a firewall.

Pundits' level of interest in the facts often goes in direct proportion to how well the facts line up with their proclamations. And when you, dear IT pro, end up on the wrong side of their thinking, you're just a naysayer whose inward focus on the minutia of technical detail has stunted your ability to see the big picture. Pundits of this ilk rarely speak directly to IT pros. Their audience is either the CIO or technically aware line-of-business managers--who then end up at odds with IT.

On the other hand, IT pros sometimes shun new technologies more because of their comfort level with the systems they have than for solid technical or business reasons. And unless IT pros make a concerted effort to work with their business partners, their insights are too heavy on what's technically reasonable and too light on the connection between organizational goals and IT capabilities. That can lead execs to work around IT.

Content Everywhere: 10 Gotchas That Can Derail Your ECM Initiative
Whether it's conflicting advice from experts or a dynamic that leads IT infrastructure to grow on a project-by-project basis, patchwork planning eventually comes home to roost. In a survey we'll be releasing early next year, we found that only 50% of software-as-a-service applications are actually integrated into existing IT systems. At the same time, tasks like e-discovery and data mining are now on IT's plate.

Any good e-discovery strategy starts with a good data classification and enterprise content management strategy. We also did a survey on the latter and found the biggest challenge to ECM's success is the time and cost required to integrate data sources. There's no silver bullet here. As simple as it might be to adopt something like SaaS-based CRM, it can be very difficult and costly to get at and manage the content in a way consistent with your in-house apps. That fact will almost certainly be lost on line-of-business managers who want their CRM app right now. Get our ECM report at informationweek.com/analytics/ecm.

Art Wittmann is director of InformationWeek Analytics, a portfolio of decision-support tools and analyst reports. Write to him at awittmann@techweb.com.

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