After reading the ERP paradox by Kailash Awati, I had that “Oh yes” feeling of recognition: someone was hitting the nail right on the head here.
Standardisation is a myth, especially when you go global. There are two simple reasons for that: customer demand and business supply
Ask a CEO what makes his business so special, and he’ll start with “We distinguish ourselves from our competitors by…” and there you have it; let me translate that for you: “We do the exact same business as half the globe, but support more exceptions to the rules”
Enterprise-wide ERP or CRM implementations usually are an IT-fest of customisation. I’d love to know the ratio between initial package cost and “implementation” (read: customisation). It never works like “Insert CD / DVD, click Next, Next, Finish”: usually the workfloor gets flooded by tens of consultants in order to fit the square red cube into the round blue hole, which takes a few months and millions, sometimes even years and hundreds of millions
Do “they” do it on purpose? No, it’s driven by business supply: the company simply has a wish to have all these customisations. Why? Customer demand
Customers are a very diverse bunch of people. They all have their coffee and tea in different ways, never wear the same clothes, and they may live in identical houses sometimes but that’s only on the outside, never on the inside: there isn’t a living-room on the face of this earth that has an identical twin somewhere else.
I dare you to come up with two people inside IBM (400K employees) who have the same jacket, pants and shoes; that appears to me to be impossible, let alone the fact that these “twins” would have an identical or even similar car and house
Standardisation? Not apparent in the real world. Diversification? Oh yes
So, where do we go from here? Let me tell you where we’ve gone: everything in the infrastructural layer has been standardised beyond recognition. Network, storage, operating systems: a choice out of three at best. In the application layer, things go wild. Really crazy – and that’s no wonder. We all run our houses on the very same gas, electricity and water (give or take a few percentage deviation cross the globe) but use a gazilliontude of devices on top of those. The answer is easy: the closer we come to the end consumer, the wilder the diversification gets
We have to accept that. It’s evolutionary, in our genes. We wouldn’t have existed without this primordial urge to grow and divert whenever we can. Evolution means upward growth, based on a firm rock bottom. Don’t you think it’s funny that we now all have mobiles, yet download apps onto those like madmen? I do. A splendid opportunity for Cloud web apps, and what happens? Install local
Adapt, Adapt, Adapt. It is all you do in life, continuously. You adapt to your parents from birth, then to your teachers, then to your religious and political leaders, and then to your work leaders – to finish it off nicely with adapting to your husband or wife, after which you breed, and then start the circle of domestication all over again: teach your kids what you’ve been taught..
So, adapt. And prepare to be adaptive. And to stay adaptive. Take your application landscape, embrace its diversity, look at the outside world, embrace its diversity as well, and become an agile, flexible, hours-to-market company by adopting the proven technology.
(Cross-posted @ Business or Pleasure? – why not both)