Business 2.0 has an article about Tech's Most Valuable Temp. The article is about the Feld Group, an enterprise computing consulting firm started by Charlie Feld. They're responsible for the tech turn around at Delta Airlines. For over a year now, I've marveled at how I could go to the Delta web site and change my seat assignment, call into the customer service line right away, and have them be able to see the change I just made. That's how its supposed to work. According to this article, the integration goes deeper than that.
I find myself agreeing with Feld a lot. For example:
Governance is another issue. Most of the time, Feld thinks, a decentralized IT operation is another form of abdication, like outsourcing. "You've got to stop letting everybody buy their own stuff," he insists. Otherwise, functional heads will overspend in fat years and underbuy in lean. Costs spin out of control; any long-range plan disappears. A big company needs just five or six major suppliers. One of the first things Feld did was put Delta's entire desktop business -- 46,000 computers -- out to bid. Every three years, when the boxes have depreciated, Delta puts the contract up for bid again. Until then, it's one less headache.
I've found this to be right on. Bucking conventional wisdom, not only is decentralization of basic services expensive, it also leads to worse service and less flexibility. People can't understand why I'm interested in desktops when the Governor's talking about eGovernment. To me, they're very related. Until we stop worrying about desktops and spending so much of our effort making them work, we'll never have the mental freedom to make the changes necessary to do eGovernment right. We have to clear away the distractions and concentrate on adding value. We can't do that when most our time is spent on basic services.