This semester, I teach a graduate level course on strategic information systems at University of St. Thomas. In addition to the textbook, Corporate Information Strategy and Management: Text and Cases, I use case studies from Harvard Business School, virtual guest speakers, and my own experience in transforming IBM to discuss IT-enabled business transformation. To give you a flavor of topics that I cover, let’s take a look at a few sentences from the textbook:
“Information technology (IT) has always been a wildcard in business, a source of opportunity and uncertainty, of advantage and risk. Business executives have often viewed the IT function with apprehension, as the province of technocrats primarily interested in new features that may have little relevance to real-world business problems. Technology executives have often considered business managers to be short-sighted, lacking the vision to exploit all the technology has to offer. Both struggle as they attempt to implement increasingly complex systems in the face of rapid change in business and technology.”
As an example, we usually have a lively class when discussing The IT Doesn’t Matter. Most students disagree with Nicholas Carr! I also teach another graduate level course on “Enterprise Architecture and Development”. In these courses, I present a holistic approach to IT-enabled business transformation by describing the world form the eyes of business and IT groups and discussing principles and roadmaps for bridging them to do the right things the right way for the enterprise. My experience in business operation, business transformation, systems thinking, and IT becomes handy when teaching these two courses to my intelligent and curious students form business and engineering programs!
A few weeks ago, we discussed how legacy systems have become a major trouble and inhibitor for enterprises in search of efficiency, agility, and the ability to innovate. We discussed the difficulties that arise from legacy systems including (a few to mention here) technology problems, residual process complexity, local adaptation, and nonstandard data definitions. The class discussion led to the fact that many of the ongoing IT projects are building systems with similar difficulties and characteristics of existing legacy systems since they are not addressing the issues that created today’s legacy systems. In other words, these new systems will become our future legacy systems! As Einstein said once it is insanity to do the same thing and expect different results! We also had interesting discussions on how to avoid future troubled legacy applications.