SOURCE: The Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group

March 15, 2010 00:01 ET

Leading Information Technology Units Drive Business Change, Says The Boston Consulting Group

The Best IT Units Do More Than Provide Support -- They Help Shape the Company's Direction and Performance

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - March 15, 2010) -  The IT organization can, and should, do far more than simply act as an order-taker. Instead, the IT function can play an active role in shaping the company's business direction and performance, says a new report from The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The report, "IT Advantage: Spring 2010," is being released today.

The report will give CIOs and other IT and business executives much to think about on the topic. It features the results of a survey that BCG recently conducted with MIT's Center for Information Systems Research on the characteristics of IT units that drive business change. The survey found that the benefits of having the IT unit act as a change driver are indeed substantial. It also found that IT units that drive business change are quite distinct -- in structure, staff roles, HR practices, outsourcing, and governance -- from their less-proactive counterparts.

The report also covers a range of other topics related to the broader issue of how IT can improve business performance. Among the subjects that the report addresses are the following:

• Strategic IT Workforce Management. Human capital plays a critical role in IT. An IT organization's current people, roles, and skills may be fine for today's demands -- but what about tomorrow? This article offers a blueprint for managing the IT people base with a forward-looking lens.

• Cloud Computing. Cloud computing presents a new paradigm but, given its infancy, companies should proceed carefully. This article suggests a measured approach to exploring the benefits of cloud computing and managing adoption risk.

• Lean and Banks. Lean practices have much to offer banks. But the key to realizing lean's potential lies in the implementation. This article discusses two pillars of successful adoption: a holistic, end-to-end approach and engagement of the people who actually perform the critical tasks.

• Scenario Analysis as a Tool for Strategic IT Planning. Strategic IT planning is always challenging -- but it is particularly challenging in times of uncertainty, such as the present. Scenario analysis can help by forcing a company to consider the full spectrum of possibilities -- not just what it believes will happen but what could happen -- and to think through probabilities and potential actions. This article explains the underlying philosophy and illustrates it with a session undertaken by a group of CIOs.

The report also features an interview with Derek McManus of Telefónica O2 UK, who offers insight on what it takes to compete successfully in today's rapidly evolving mobile-telecommunications industry. McManus, the company's chief technology officer, discusses a number of topics in the interview, including his transformation of the company's technology function and the role technology plays in reinventing the company's business model.

"The current economic climate demands that companies fire on all cylinders if they hope to not just survive but thrive," said Wolfgang Thiel, global leader of BCG's Information Technology practice and one of the report's coauthors. "The IT organization is a potent weapon in most companies, yet it is typically underutilized. To remedy this, IT organizations need to be more assertive about their potential value added. And their business counterparts need to more actively seek to leverage what IT has to offer."

To receive a copy of the report or arrange an interview with one of the authors, please contact Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3783 or gregoire.eric@bcg.com.

About The Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world's leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients in all sectors and regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their businesses. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with 69 offices in 40 countries. For more information, please visit www.bcg.com.