I absolutely love it when I'm at the golf course and I see some rich guy saunter up to the first tee, with his brand-new set of high-priced golf clubs. His new TaylorMades (or Titleists or Callaways, doesn't matter) glisten in the sun, a supposed reflection of his need for the latest and greatest in golfing technology to match his impressive athletic skills and golfing abilities.
And then he shanks his ball into the woods. Most often he admonishes the club, staring in utter disbelief at what his $1,000 TaylorMade r7 CGB Max Limited Driver just did ("What the heck?!"). A second, third and fourth shot, however, confirms what we bemused spectators already know: His belief in the faulty nature of his clubs belies reality—he just sucks at golf.
An analogous scenario, my friends, has been happening inside companies since technology-driven automation came on the scene in the latter part of the 20th century: Namely that companies have gone out and bought ultra-expensive, state-of-the-art ERP systems when they were nowhere near ready to properly implement and take advantage of the benefits contained within said systems.
And just like the guy on the golf course throwing his new clubs into the woods in disgust, ERP deployments at companies ill-prepared for the massive and complex change demanded by today's systems have failed miserably.
The originator of this analogy is AMR Research CEO Tony Friscia. I recently stumbled across his opinion piece, "You're Not Tiger Woods!", and it just crystallized everything that I've been thinking about and hearing from IT people for years. (Of course, there are other analogies you can use to illustrate this point—the recently popularized "putting lipstick on a pig" comes to mind.)
In it, Friscia posits "with every introduction of new golf technology—bigger sweet spots, lighter metals, longer flying balls—players race to their local clubs and pro shops to buy a better game," many every two or three years during the last decade.
But a funny thing has happened: The average golfer's handicap (a reflection of a golfer's ability, where the lower your handicap the better you are) hasn't dropped one point, Friscia writes. However, even the slightest tweaks in new golf technology in the hands of professionals, like Tiger Woods, can make a huge difference.
Unfortunately, he notes, most of us aren't Tiger Woods.
"Companies can buy all the enterprise software they want, but unless their companies are performing well to begin with, as Tiger Woods is, that software isn't going to help a whole lot," Friscia writes. "To most companies, these investments are a cost without an ROI."
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