I did a presentation yesterday Gartner's Symposium/ITxpo about how to align IT with ERP, CRM, and SCM users. I thought I made a pretty compelling case. Most CIOs think that IT does not lacks the flexibility to respond to business change, that it could do more to deliver technology innovations needed by the business, and is not as effective as it could be in delivering against the enterprise strategy. Enterprise applications are a root cause because they are often viewed as inhibitors to business change (lacking the flexibility to change as the business changes). In addition, they often lack the decision support capabilities needed to ensure that the business is executing against the enterprise strategy. This situation has a potential to get worse. Users are increasingly blazing their own path. They are not afraid to go find solutions to meet their needs. These often take the form of Software as a Service and even consumer-grade software (the use of consumer grade software at work is surprisingly high compared to the expectations of both end users and IT -- we have done some survey work that highlights this result). Add to that, there is new generation of workers coming into the business world that are tech savvy and have had their user experience expectations set by consumer-grade software. The bar is defining moving higher for IT to meet enterprise application users needs.
I provided some context about how the user needs are changing and what they can do to better align with those needs. The reaction of the audience was relatively subdued (I hope it was not my delivery!). There were a few people who asked questions afterwards who seemed to feel this was an issue for them. However, many, I think, felt that this was not that big a deal. They were working with the users and understanding their needs. I have seen enough self-service projects stumble to know that just dealing HR or Finance users is not enough, you have to reach the ultimate end users. Am I overstating the importance meeting these more casual user needs? Do you think IT is doing enough to understand these needs?