Emphasize Business Capabilities
The more clearly an IT initiative supports a business capability, the better an investment it is. For many IT shops, effectively providing this support requires a shift in the conversation around IT away from purely technical details and toward the business contexts IT supports. For IT to remain relevant to the business and avoid slipping down the "IT as nothing but an expense" slope, IT staff must be able to advocate for investment in business terms. IT leaders must understand the investment requirements and map them onto required business capabilities.
Business capabilities are also subject to consolidation. The non-technical processes of the business domain must be rationalized in the same way as the applications and system functions within IT (i.e., using a portfolio management discipline). Over time, and especially in environments with merger and acquisition activities, redundancies across business capabilities will be introduced. It may not be desirable to consolidate all redundant business processes, but some level of normalization will lead to more efficient IT implementation. In the end, this will reduce cost.
Collaborate Without Collocation
New and improved tools for collaboration make it easier to reduce travel. From videoconferencing to sophisticated ubiquitous computing scenarios, users have more options for gathering virtually without loss of productivity.
Certainly, collocation is sometimes more effective, especially when concepts are very abstract, or there are significant human resources issues involved (i.e., don't lay someone off via videoconference . . . bad idea). This may mean realignment of people and roles so that they are co-located and can easily participate face to face when needed.
For those teams that are co-located, it is worth stating the obvious. Don't use conferencing and other tools designed for virtual team meetings when everyone is in the same building (that doesn't happen does it?). There is a cost, both financial and social, associated with inappropriate use of these technologies.
Web 2.0 technologies are a great and relatively inexpensive way to encourage collaborative design and brainstorming. They (should) also make it easier to find out who knows what, especially when a team member is trying to solve a tough problem. Many organizations are experiencing higher productivity using Web 2.0 techniques. Blogs and wikis also enhance enterprise knowledge and should be indexed for search. If information is easier to find, it will be put to use more quickly.
Remember, collaboration is a human activity. Tools exist to support that activity, but will not create value on their own. In your organization, you may need to solve cultural and political issues before collaboration becomes a natural pursuit.
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