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Do Your Users Know What They Don't Know?

by Dave Hannon

November 26, 2012

By Dave Hannon @Daveatwispubs 


"They didn't know what they didn't know."

That was the way an IT contact I spoke with recently described the end users' enthusiastic reaction to its implementation of a new SAP application. Users were surprised by how much more they could do with the data they had available.

It's not the first time I've heard that type of phrase to describe the reaction from business users -- pleasantly surprised about what they could do with their new application. But after giving it some thought, I realized that might not be the reaction you want from business users. Why? Because it indicates that that users aren't thinking about how they can leverage data -- regardless of technology -- to its fullest potential. It means that only when the IT organization (and perhaps a high-level business leader) forced a new application at their users did the users start to see the value of their data.

If I were a CIO and I had just spent $x million to roll out a new application to hundreds of users, I'd want to hear people say "Now I can execute on those business initiatives I had planned but were being held back by poor visibility or technology." I'd want to know this new solution is exactly what the business has been looking for and not a surprise present delivered to them without their asking.

Is this unrealistic? No. In fact, a recent story in insiderPROFILES describes how Vodafone did this. The company's SAP ERP implementation was driven by clear business goals -- they knew what they did n't know and they knew what they needed to know it. The project head was a former business CFO, not an IT manager. And a business committee had final say on any scope or process change during the implementation. The result is an ERP implementation that is very closely mapped to Vodafone's business priorities and processes. No surprises--just well-planned technology selection followed by expected benefits.

So the next time your users are surprised at the benefits a new IT project brings, ask yourself if those are the benefits your organization really wanted or just a "happy accident" along the way?

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