Friday, September 17, 2010

Embedded (shadow) IT: Where are you?

If you have ever had a position in IT where there was a “dotted” line in your responsibility to another group, you’ve worked for embedded IT. If you have developed an application on your desktop to support your team, you have been embedded IT.

CIO’s always want to centralize most of embedded IT to achieve the cost savings of common services, infrastructure, and architecture. I’ve been embedded and centralized, both of which have their faults.

Here are some aspects of embedded IT that could be potentially missing from a centralized model:

Well understood business requirements: ability to read between the lines
Trust in your teammate’s ability to deliver
Efficiency of work and play is a given
Hard work is observed and appreciated by the business
Governance is organized and strong: no dotted lines needed
Content is fully described to suit the project at hand
Sneaker net workflow works well

Here are some aspects of centralized IT that could be potentially missing from an embedded model:

Automated workflow
Consistent metadata and values which describe content
Governance which is tuned into the goals of IT as a whole
Consolidation and sharing of duplicated services
Lack of trust in your teammate’s ability to deliver on a project due to being spread thin
Business requirements that are read literally

Monday, September 13, 2010

Creative Destruction of SharePoint

SharePoint is trying to transform, or split up ECM into pieces, similar to what Schumpeter referred to as “creative destruction”. Schumpeter’s use of this term implies that in order to have innovation the current paradigm has to be superseded.

What aspects of ECM will be crushed in order for SharePoint to innovate? Will ECM actually be destroyed? I have doubts. The main “innovations” of SharePoint over ECM software are based on shortcomings of the software suites, not the solutions or platforms. SharePoint is not as much innovation as it is a fix to chronic ECM problems:
  • A more unified architecture, as opposed to the patch work of typical ECM suites
  • Easier to configure and build sites from templates (unless you have to customize, which is most of the time)
  • Ease of Use: by definition SharePoint is easier to learn and use, unless your thousands of users already use another software suite.
  • Already in the house as an OS and email system, thus foundationally integrated, which is the key business driver for Microsoft-based systems.
  • Less expensive, in the short run, but the long run expenses will depend upon reducing the need for customizations and traditional library management services.

ECM suites will have to develop and innovate on their strengths, which in some cases are slowness to change with the times. Most small mistakes made in implementing content management systems were made on a continuing basis for cost and lack of direction reasons, not because of the obvious flaws in the software. The market of ECM has created the dinosaurs of ECM suites, not the other way around. All large enterprises, which own the largest amount of licenses, can not and will not move at social media speeds.

Social media has many more iterations to go through in order to develop the depth of ECM requirements. SharePoint will run in parallel of the ECM suites for some time to come, maybe nibbling off bits of functionality and previous integrations. In the mean time, ECM will hopefully rewrite their core software to be more open source and model their applications and added value on innovations rather than bandaids.

Litigation Response as Wedge in IT Issues

Let’s say you have litigation response that the legal department has mandated. It becomes clear that the overall cost to outsource the discovery of self-organized content repositories with limited metadata and historical changes in metadata values, let alone file shares and email, is staggering.

The Legal Hold project revealed issues in many other areas of the company, namely that there was no central data management architecture, records management was not automated enough, and central governance of the embedded IT groups was ineffectual.

In this case, the Early Case Assessment was controlled by outsourced personnel instead of an automated tool. The mandate acted as a wedge that opened up the heart of the issues that almost every enterprise has to some degree: namely the lack of coherent standards which span all applications and are well understood and governed.