Thursday, 3 July 2008

Having the idea is the easy part!

Most organisations are keen to hear new ideas from their business partners and suppliers, whether innovation is 'baked into the deal' or not! Even if they like the ideas, the business case stacks up and the return on investment is incredibly attractive, many companies stall at this point. Why? Well it's often to do with the fact that the very things which the organisation would benefit from the most are often the hardest things to do.

For example, most companies would be responsive to a proposition which would see them saving costs by reducing duplication across their business, streamlining processes, and sharing and collaborating across divisions and subsidiaries. In fact, central to the drive towards true Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is the sharing of common services across often complex business and channels to market. SOA aims to break down the business silos which many organisations shape themselves around in order to strip out inefficiencies, heighten competitiveness and accelerate their speed to market. The trouble is, most companies like their silos. In most cases, their whole organisational structure, culture and ethos is based around these silos, as autonomous divisions take responsibility for their own P&L, strategy and behaviours, sometimes in direct competition with group colleagues in other divisions and subsidiaries.

All of this brings us back to why it's often so hard for companies genuinely looking for new ideas and innovations to simply do the right thing. It's even more difficult to do the green thing!

Many large organisations are beginning to appreciate the compelling case made by energy saving software which ensures that everybody's PCs and monitors are switched off automatically when not in use and which tells you just how much energy (and cash) you are saving to boot.

However, in any organisation of size, several business areas would normally need to come together to fund a pilot and then a rollout of such software... a corporate dance requiring quite elaborate choreography. However, and here's the kicker, even if you could get everyone round a table signing up to co-sponsor this, when will they see the promised ROI of, say, six months?

Well, possibly never, because energy savings are picked up by central facilities and not by the individual departments occupying the floorspace across the corporate office estate. These meetings often end abruptly as stakeholders rush off to spend their limited budgets on projects where the benefits are realised within their own empires. This further compounds the silo problem, sends SOA further into the future and inhibits an organisation which so desparately wants to do the right thing from actually doing it.

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