In May 2008, on this blog, I wrote about Chateau Palmer (a fine Bordeaux wine) and, specifically, about how making wine forces a long term strategy – vines take years before they produce a yield that is worth bottling (my friends in the business say that the way to make a small fortune in wine is to start with a large one), more years can go by before the wine in the bottle is drunk by most consumers, and yet, every year the process repeats (with some variety, much caused by the weather). It’s definitely a long game.
I wondered what would happen if you could only make decisions about your IT investment every 10 years, and them made a couple of predictions. I said:
Cloud computing – This is going to be increasingly talked about until you can’t remember when people didn’t talk about and then, finally, people are going to do it. [If you read only this bit then perhaps I am a visionary strategist; if you read the whole of it, I got most of the rest wrong]
Application rationalisation – Taken across a single country’s government as a whole, the total number of applications will be a frightening number, as will the total cost to support them all. There are several layers of consolidation, ranging from declaring “end of life” for small systems and cutting their budgets to zero (and waiting for them to wither and die – this might take eons) to a more strategic, let’s use only one platform (SAP, Oracle etc) from here on in and migrate everything to that single platform (this too could take eons)
It feels, 11 years on, that we are still talking about cloud computing and that, whilst many are doing it, we are a long way from all in. And the same for application rationalisation – many have rationalised, but key systems are still creaking, supported by an ever decreasing number of specialists, and handling workloads far beyond their original design principles.
Did we devise a strategy and stick to it? or did we bend with the wind and change year to year, rewrite as new people came and went? Perhaps we focused on business as usual and forgot the big levers of change?