Using technology to drive business process change

While C-level executives no longer see technology is as a black science but a tool for business transformation, there is still plenty of debate about how it should be used and implemented.

Should companies change their business processes to accommodate technology or should technology be re-engineered to fit an organization's business model?

Darren Russ, director of technology and architecture for consultancy firm Accenture, believes that in the past IT drove the business, processes changed to fit the technology.

But today he said technology is more of a bridge to enhance business processes.

In the past, IT was a mysterious backroom function while today it is the DNA of most organizations and central to its success, Russ said.

Tony Lucas, professional services partner with Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, said most organizations use both approaches.

He said the reality is most organizations are modelling technology to fit their business model; however, when the situation arises will change their business model to fit the technology.

"No set rules apply when it comes to gaining a competitive edge in the marketplace, although studying a competitor's rollout is the best way to learn of issues that can lead to a costly mistake," Lucas said.

Brad Reed, enterprise solutions manager for Nokia Australia, said one example of business process taking the driver's seat is the use of wireless technology.

"Wireless technology is in overriding demand from business people, for instance a sales manager can see an immediate benefit from greater flexibility in the team's working day and a greater degree of mobility in terms of accessing information," he said.

"But the business model should be able to adapt to technology as some projects being rolled out enable significant changes to the business processes and savings to the business.

"As a business starts to evolve, technology can enable people to think differently in respect to existing processes. "

* Should organizations change their business processes to accommodate technology? E-mail michael_crawford@idg.com.au

IT revolutionizes business models

There is no way an organization would be able to adapt a business model to suit emerging technologies and they shouldn't even consider doing so, according to David Wynn, IT and managing director for ICT development firm Qyncom.

Wynn said that technology is going a little too fast for businesses to seriously consider adapting new releases into their business model; however, there are more implications than just an ineffective organization.

The social implications of a major vendor introducing cutting-edge technologies into their business model could be registered not only in terms of profit, but also through a potential loss of sales.

"Look at the new RFID technology and consider what would happen if it was implemented in the business model of a major supermarket," he said.

"RFID has the potential to eliminate casual staff which leads to jobs being eliminated through the introduction of technology.

"Imagine if a supermarket implemented RFID into its operation - which is one thing stores want. We can now consider a supermarket without a [stock] manager will fit directly into the business model. With RFID [deliveries] there will be no stocktaking and no re-ordering, so essentially there is a huge potential for technology to revolutionize a business model, even down to the speed [at checkouts]."

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