In recent years, the “project” has become the predominant format for conducting business activities or activities within businesses. And it is also now established practice to glorify even routine activities by dubbing them as projects. Projects structure our world of business and work and render it understandable and measurable. These are good and appropriate aspects of projects.
However, projects also suggest that a certain business process has a clearly defined beginning and an equally clearly defined end, the point in time when everyone is done with what they were supposed to do and can head home contented. That is exactly why it would be wrong to talk about IT projects. The term “IT project” creates the impression that IT support for strategies and processes has a clearly defined end. That is not the case, however IT is an ongoing process.
Change in Paradigms in Understanding Business processes
Business processes are and must be subject to constant change so that companies can seize the competitive opportunities presented to them. Business models were once carved in stone but they can be swept away today by the howling winds of competition—unless they are adapted, changed or completely redone. As companies continuously evaluate their own business models, part of that effort is to constantly adapt their IT. Companies cannot have information architecture that is simpler than their business model. The IT architecture of a company must strengthen the crucial functions within a company, such as sales, for example.
The Benefit to Customers Counts
The need to examine IT solutions as processes in the context of a company’s business model is driven by a force that increasingly shapes our economy: the struggle to benefit customers.
In highly competitive markets, internal streamlining and increased efficiency are naturally indispensable. However, the crucial factor is to take the lead in the competition to create benefits for customers. Winning over new customers is known to be much more expensive—in certain industries many times more expensive—than maintaining bonds with an existing clientele. That is why companies give clear priority to gearing their business processes to providing their customers with optimum service and to building customer loyalty with corresponding programs and sales promotion activities. IT plays a key part in these efforts. It allows customer requests and preferences to be recorded as accurately as possible and used as a basis for giving customers the best possible service.
The catchword of “one-to-one” marketing, the ideal form of customer communication, has been a promise for a long time. Individualized customer communication is becoming a reality thanks to increasingly differentiated and intelligent IT applications. And therein lie the decisive competitive advantages today in more and more industries.
With the success story of the consumer paradigm, customers have become timid creatures. Their requirements, their wishes, their behavior define and change business processes to an ever-greater degree. A company providing the right IT support that constantly helps to develop processes and ascertain needs will fare well in competition. Without an appropriate IT base, customer relationship management (CRM) usually remains an empty promise.