Read the IT Mini Case: “Managing Technology at Genex Fuels” (p.306 IT Strategy)
1. What evidence is the CEO using to suggest that Genex is not using technology competitively? Does this provide a valid argument?
The CEO's primary evidence is the perception that every time he inquires about new technology he is only given reasons it would not be possible to implement. He feels that in order to use technology competitively the company has to get ahead of the curve. He also makes sub points that they need to behave as if they are one business, and that the IT organization needs to be more agile and responsive as they were in the past. I'm hard pressed to say that being told certain new technology cannot be implemented means that the organization is not using technology competitively; it is certainly possible for an organization to stay competitive without always using the newest cutting edge technology and in some cases always trying to implement new technology can actually be detrimental to a firm. The idea of the company needing to get ahead of the curve indicates the CEO wants Genex to be an IT leader, which means making potentially risky decisions to implement new technology before it is proven - this maybe reasonable in some cases or some of the time, but is a poor way to attempt to use technology competitively. Behaving as one business makes sense, especially given the disjointed nature of the IT systems since they were selected on the basis of individual areas of the company instead of being chosen to help the firm work together and communicate better between business units. This leads directly into the inability of IT to be agile and responsive, and changes to help enhance this could certainly help the company.
2. What is your recommendation for a strategy to successfully implement enterprise wide systems (such as SAP) at Genex?
All the disparate systems used by each group needs to be inventoried including a clear, concise description of the processes that the system facilitates. With this list in hand it will be possible to ensure that SAP meets the requirements of each business unit, and if there is missing functionality alternatives can be researched or it can be determined if there are modules that will fit into SAP to add that functionality. It will also be necessary to find and select a methodology by which all the old data can be imported into the new SAP system; obviously anything that can be done in an automated fashion would be preferred, but if there is data that has to be manually transferred it is important to find the fastest, most effecient way to do so.