05.03.04

IT Approaching Its Golden Age, Not the Ice Age
AMR Research’s latest quarterly survey of corporate decision-makers reinforces the optimism that we’ve been expressing since early this year: Although we will not see anything close to the wild ride we experienced in 1999 and 2000, stability is finally coming to IT spending patterns and technology markets, which will benefit established companies. I write this positive outlook amid a growing backdrop of negativism on the future and the importance of IT markets.
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Exterminate IT management detritus
With coming of daylight-saving time, spring cleaning has entered my thoughts, and I’ve begun thinking of ways to clear out the bits of IT management detritus that seeped into my work life during winter. I’m feeling like Capt. Willard in Apocalypse Now, except the mysterious winding river is my desk, and if I do find my own Kurtz somewhere underneath it all, his dying breaths in this case will likely be, "The clutter! The clutter!" I have decided that I need a strategy to terminate disorganization with extreme prejudice. If my strategy is to succeed, I must focus on leveraging emerging technologies to make IT management more efficient -- and on some mundane, practical matters, too.
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Enterprises Say Customer Service Tools Still Critical
"One of the items that is going to make [companies] get their checkbooks out is customer feedback applications," predicts Denis Pombriant of Beagle Research Group. "Companies have rationalized their business processes, but the thing they haven't done is help the customer."

Common wisdom has it that the market for enterprise software for big, global corporations -- ERP and CRM suites, particularly -- has been saturated. Study after study has declared that mid-size businesses and small businesses represent the new frontier.
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A recent column by Chris Pickering suggested that Enterprise Architecture (EA) be allowed to rest in peace -- or die as a concept or approach. His premise is that it either is no longer, or possibly never was, a valid approach to anything.

While many an EA effort failed to provide expected value, this is the case of most transformation approaches when they were applied improperly -- including business process reengineering and "big bang" ERP.
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There's No ''IT'' in ''Thrift''
Take a new, young CFO, ensconce him in the downtown Seattle headquarters of a small but growing company with operations in eight western states, and you can be pretty sure that information technology will be an important aspect of his growth strategy.

So much for assumptions. Meet Brent Beardall, CFO of Washington Federal Savings, the bank that just says no—to IT. The $7.5 billion thrift, which specializes in fixed-rate residential mortgages and is consistently rated as among the safest of harbors for depositors' money, takes frugality to a completely different dimension. While other savings-and-loans spend 40 to 54 cents to earn $1 of revenue, in 2003 Washington Federal squeezed by on 16.5 cents. At the same time, it earned $145 million, a 2 percent return on assets, marking another record year for the regional thrift with 119 branches, 200,000 customers, and 750 employees.
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Your subordinate approaches you with an idea and your immediate reaction is that it's a waste of time and won't work. But a colleague points out that a slight variation of the idea will save weeks of work and make your systems more user-friendly. Why does one person perceive opportunity where another doesn't? How can you keep yourself in a position to take advantage of the opportunities in front of you?

Understand that your perception can become distorted. Whenever your mind is agitated -- when you're worried, stressed, overworked, frustrated, angry or otherwise upset -- you no longer perceive life directly, but through a glass colored darkly.
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