Information Maturity and I.T. ROI

I spent the beginning of my morning preparing for an ISV Product Assessment Deep Dive and reviewing some old Gartner group reports.  I’m an Industry Analyst for two Research firms in my off time.   As I scanned the graphs in the Gartner report I noticed an interesting trend from year to year.  The amount of I.T. budget spent on business transformation – pundit-speak—for improved capabilities for the business continues to shrink, while infrastructure and maintenance costs continue to rise.  The figures quoted for 2003 were 19% for transformation.   During the 1970s new application development –old category name for business transformation—was hovering between 30% to 40%.

The interesting issue around this fact is that vendors are all over talking about virtualization and cloud, yet when I look at the benefits of both they’re focused around reducing the hardware maintenance and platform cost footprint.  Oddly enough that’s one of the least costly items in the budget.  A simple Pareto Analysis suggest developing and working on means to reduce software, specifically application,  maintenance costs would give a better payback.  Simply put a reduction of 10% of 90% is more than a reduction of 40% of 20%.

Hopefully Cloud vendors and tool purveyors will crack tat nut.  I am hopeful given enabling technologies such as AgilePoint and Concatenate.  However that presupposes I.T. organization move up the food chain from 1990s design patterns to present day.  A recent spot check has too many customers using SharePoint as a web frontend to a shared drive.  Simply put many organizations are managing files not information.

Last month I kicked off a project to produce a White Paper: From File Management to Information Management an organizational maturity road map.  During the SharePoint Salon in Anaheim this month many of the participants contributed towards that body of knowledge with the intent of developing a practice based on a sound body of work.  Hopefully the next Salon I hold in a few months will advance the discourse as much as the previous ones have.        

SharePoint Salon: I.T. and SharePoint Governace

Last night friends and colleagues gathered at the Hilton during the SharePoint 2011 conference in Anaheim for 2nd SharePoint Salon.  During the event several topics were brought to the table to discuss.  It was, as the last Salon, exhilarating to engage in exchanges of ideas and opinions.   Many of the participants were just as passionate in their opinions and conversation engagement as I am. 

The conversations while initially meant to focus on a few key issues in greater depth: I.T. and SharePoint Governance; Information Management/Taxonomy Creation; to name two.  During the rolling conversation group members chimed in with various perspectives:

Owen Allen brought forth the question if governance is to be effective it has to be more than a single ten letter word meaning permissions.  It needs to be divided into several more buckets.  This generated an interesting discourse between the strategic and tactical sides of the issue.  What is governance?  From the tactical perspective or what End Users see, it appears as what I would label enforcement.  “Just tell me what I can and cannot do” Susan Hanley,Essential SharePoint 2011, would say.   I, taking what could be viewed as an opposing view, strongly advocated governance needs to be more than just the rules of the road.  Having authored the framework for Microsoft’s I.T. in the mid to late 90s, put forth that the process of how and who makes those rules is the major part of governance which is often ignored in an effort to get to something practical that people can do. 

I see the cause for shortcutting governance creation has a lot to do with domain expertise and knowledge boundary gaps.  To build an effective I.T. or SharePoint governance two knowledge domains are needed or fused together; Business and Technology.  During the mid-90s the Microsoft CIO put forth a vision of the organization being Business Technologists.  The problem was then that most of the organization was populated by technologists and very few business oriented staff.  As such the results of asking to put forth a governance from prior staff always resulted in a set of permissions or rules, not a process on how to actively determine, deploy, enforce, monitor and adjust those rules. 

The model I put forward –which Peter Weil later described as one type of governance strategy in a brilliant book on IT Governance–is based on what I’m proud to credit America’s Framer’s work the United States Constitution.  I spent several weeks translating governance of the country concepts to governance of Information in an Enterprise.  This insight came to me years prior during my tenure at IBM as one of the underpinning concepts in an AIAA White Paper I presented “Enterprise Linguistics”.  During that time I used discipline jargon in a lose analogy to languages throughout the world.  Within an enterprise you have many countries: Executive Suite, Finance, Manufacturing, Engineering, IT, HR, etc.  This aha had me relate these countries or states to a federated model that enabled local decisions within the local domain and central decisions at a central domain.  [I am grateful to my high school social studies teacher, Mr. Frogue, for engaging me in several active discussions on governance decades ago.  You never know what knowledge you’ll pick up and apply in the future]. That had me see the relationship between the constitution and I.T. management in a clear light.

Below, is a snapshot of the model presented years ago.  Owen here is my suggestion for the buckets you seek.