What evidence is the CEO using to suggest that Genex is not using technology competitively?
The CEO is emphasizing the fragmented nature of Genex where each division is separating as a separate business, running its affairs independently. Because there is no collaboration between divisions and their IT operations are not integrated, it limits the management ability to effectively run the company as one. Moreover, he believes that the organization is slow to respond to changing nature of the industry and the IT department is not as fast and responsive to organizational needs as it should be. The CEO is also frustrated with the IT department’s inability to respond to strategic challenges and actions he wants to implement. The CEO believes that the IT infrastructure at Genex is outdated and Genex won’t be able to compete with its competitors unless it is at the leading edge of IT technology.
Did Devlin need to hire Sandy, a “high-priced technology consultant,” to tell him that technology at Genex was a mess?
Hiring Sandy was a wise decision by the Genex CIO Nick Devlin. Genex CEO appointed Nick Devlin for the very reason that he was not satisfied with the state of IT affairs and Nick Devlin was on the same page with his boss. Realizing that a problem exists is not sufficient in itself; the management also needs to understand the nature of the problem as well as coming up with an effective solution to the problem. This is where the services of a “high-priced consultant” such as Sandy will come in Handy. At the end of the case, we see Devlin turning to Sandy and his assistant Yee for their recommendations regarding the next course of action as all the major problems that need to be addressed have been identified.
Genex CEO realized there is a problem because he felt that the IT was inadequately prepared to meet the day to day operational needs as well as long term challenges of the company. Being the insiders, the CEO and Devlin may be knowledgeable about the management and operational aspects of Genex but they lack certain skills and outlook that Sandy brings to the table. Presumably, Sandy is a consultant with vast industry experience in implementing IT solutions at large organizations and has worked with different IT technologies. Thus, he can use his experience to not only evaluate the existing IT technology in the divisions and their compatibility with each other but also recommend other IT solutions that the company may not be aware of. So far, each division has made IT decisions independently of each other and thus, integration was never a consideration in the IT equation.
Bringing an outside consultant will also increase the credibility of companywide IT strategy since it will reduce the bias usually associated with the company insiders. Sandy has already demonstrated his expertise by giving a detailed brief to Devlin about the company’s state of IT operations as well as explaining the technologies’ historical evolution. He is also well informed about the capabilities and limitations of each technology. He has also detailed what steps need to be taken to prepare the company for a companywide IT implementation. It was Sandy who realized the seriousness of the situation as he mentions that Genex is lucky to have survived this long. The CEO and CIO might have known that IT problems exist but they were probably unaware of the true extent of the problems and the competitive threats to the company.
Devise a strategy to successfully implement enterprise wide systems (such as SAP) at Genex.
First of all, the company needs to digitally backup all the data most of which is in old storage formats and whose destruction will be an irreplaceable loss. Old data do not need to be digitally backed-up for protection purpose only but also to be stored in a format compatible with the new enterprise wide IT system. Genex will have to radically change its IT culture and improve coordination among its divisions because company-wide implementation is only as effective as its acceptance and approval by the IT personnel and other users of IT. The company will communicate the new system in detail as well as the reasons to implement it to gather staff’s support. It will also institute a company-wide training program so that everyone is well versed in the use of new system and supplement the training program with ongoing support that will continue long after the basic training is over. Genex also needs to change the impression of IT from a separate department to an integrated component of daily operations as well as management decision making tools. The company will lead the IT change from the top to the bottom to show management’s commitment to IT as a force of continuous change (McKeen & Smith, 2009) that will be evaluated on an ongoing basis as part of the company’s strategic policies development.