45-45-45: Business @eSpeed

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Publication date: 1 October 2000

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Citation

Wayne Ronhaar, R. (2000), "45-45-45: Business @eSpeed", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 28 No. 5. https://doi.org/10.1108/sl.2000.26128eag.001

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited


45-45-45: Business @eSpeed

45-45-45: Business @eSpeed

Robert Wayne Ronhaar

Abstract Business in the eSpeed economy will be characterized by the 45-45-45 rule: 45 seconds to find the information you need, 45 minutes to develop analysis and solutions, and 45 days to implementation and going live. This reality will put increasing pressure on IT organizations to respond quickly to organizational needs. The author suggests six initiatives that help to integrate IT into every aspect of corporate strategy.

Keywords: Information technology, Response rate, Corporate strategy

In today's @eSpeed economy, it is electronic and economic Darwinism. Many businesses are faced with e-fear, the fear of e-business, and e-concern, the implications executives must face as a result of their e-business actions. This situation places exponential demands on IT departments and leadership for e-change, the ability to deliver dynamic technology and solutions; e-response, the ability to turn on a dime and give nine cents change; and what I call e-results, 724 delivery (724 delivery refers to online availability seven days a week, 24 hours a day) with a high e-reliability and e-confidence coefficient. These demands and pressures on today's IT leaders are increasingly forcing them to drive their organizations by the 45-45-45 rule:

  • 45 seconds to find the information they need;

  • 45 minutes to develop analysis and solutions;

  • 45 days to implementation and going live.

Nothing exemplifies the rapid changes and development of our times more than two simple statistics. It took 38 years for 50 million North American users to get radio. It has taken less than four years for 50 million North American users to get on the Web, and another four years to triple that number to 150 million (see Exhibit 1).

Exhibit 1 Projected number of online users by region

The Internet and e-business are moving at the speed of light. Because of eSpeed, the business environment is like the "Wild West" all over again, and in the gunfights at the OK Corral, you are either "quick" or you are dead. Increasingly, chief executives understand that in today's @eSpeed economy, the ability to achieve competitive advantage is defined by the company's ability to deliver critical-path IT initiatives in extremely shortened timeframes. As the enabler of the e-economy business strategy, IT is becoming integrated into every function and woven strategically into the overall execution of business strategy, ever increasing its pivotal role as a business lever and competitive weapon. Demands from venture capitalists (VCs), boards of directors, CEOs, and stockholders are driving IT to respond at unbelievable speeds.

...As the enabler of the e-economy business strategy, IT is becoming integrated into every function and woven strategically into the overall execution of business strategy, ever increasing its pivotal role as a business lever and competitive weapon...

45 seconds to the information

For today's leaders and IT managers, time is a luxury. It is precious and often one of the most coveted commodities. With e-business moving at light speed, and the demands of the environment driving IT's response, discovery must be rapid if not instantaneous, and discovery's results must be reliable and relevant.

45 minutes to analysis and solution

As executives and VCs push for competitive advantage and rapid response, IT can no longer indulge in lengthy analysis, extended comparisons, and protracted evaluations. A company may be the product inventor or market innovator, but with the briefest hesitation, its market and competitive advantage can be erased, never to be regained. Competitive pressures and customer demands can dramatically compress the time available for analysis, decision-making, and the subsequent launch of the new initiative.

Barbara Babcock, corporate vice president and president of e-business services for Unisys Corp. comments: "There is still a dichotomy in e-business between the sense of rushing blindly into something, and the sense of pausing and focusing on sustained value." The technology community has humorously characterized Internet years as "dog years," i.e. a year in Internet time is equivalent to seven years' time in the "old economy." Thus, in today's e-business economy, everything must happen seven times faster. The challenge for IT is to sustain the value and maintain the speed while leveraging the future.

...A company may be the product inventor or market innovator, but with the briefest hesitation, its market and competitive advantage can be erased, never to be regained...

45 days to implementation

E-business operates at a frenetic pace. In their recent book, MetaCapitalism, Grady Means and David Schneider state: "The period of 2000-2002 will witness what is predicted as the single greatest change in global economic and business conditions ever – the realignment from traditional corporate structure to Internet-leveraged models and styles of brand-owning, customer-focused companies"[1]. E-business projects are being driven from concept to completion and live deployment, often within a matter of months.

Competitive advantage and barriers to entry are forcing project planners and managers to accept mandates for @eSpeed completion. As noted by Christopher Murray, chairman and CEO of ABT Corp., "Because of the fast-moving nature of an e-business project, there is a lot of stress out there. People realize that they can't do this by the seat of their pants, but they can't go with a slow-boat process either. Because the pace has picked up so dramatically, people must figure out how to develop new business processes."

To drive these @eSpeed initiatives, IT is constantly challenged to find new ways of confronting the boundaries of development and implementation. Some of the issues IT must resolve in its quest to achieve eSpeed include:

  • Are software and hardware systems capable of scaling from local to global demand?

  • Can effective administrative tools be implemented?

  • Is the technology of choice a short-term resolution to stop the bleeding or a long-term solution to enable the business strategy?

  • Do IT investments actually build capabilities or simply improve the state of ongoing operations?

Fear of flying?

There is no need to be afraid. The good news is that it is easier today than ever before to develop an integrated solution and to deploy that solution on a global level at an eSpeed rate.

Through @eSpeed digital thinking, business and IT leaders can connect the lines between business and technology rapidly and seamlessly. IT alone cannot change the course of a company, but the intimate integration of IT into every aspect of corporate strategy can.

Six initiatives to help drive this effort forward are:

  1. 1.

    Position IT as a visible corporate priority.

  2. 2.

    Integrate IT into the chief executive's agenda and into the company's senior decision-making circle.

  3. 3.

    Position and manage IT spending and investment priorities in line with the corporation's overall investment priorities.

  4. 4.

    Deploy the best-available IT management model.

  5. 5.

    Cross-pollinate skill sets. Integrate a business manager into IT's projects and an IT manager into business's projects.

  6. 6.

    Manage for value creation and measure IT success by profits, not cost. Position IT as a revenue driver rather than as the traditional cost center.

"Global capital market value will grow from $20 trillion to $200 trillion in fewer than ten years, unleashing undreamed-of possibilities and solutions to longstanding problems." Total global Internet users will grow from 300 million to more than 500 million over the next three years as shown in Exhibit 1. The pace at which IT is required to react is not for the faint of heart. And while it can be intimidating, it can also be exhilarating and rewarding. The new reality demands a new breed of IT managers. They must be fearless and tireless if they are to function within the demanding time constraints. They must be technically savvy and business savvy. They must be able to work with the legacy applications while implementing the technologies of today and planning for the integration of the emerging technologies of the future.

As the tycoon in the movie Contact said to the Jodie Foster character as she was about to be launched at warp speed to Vega: "Wanna take a ride?"

Reference

1. Means, G. and Schneider, D., Meta-Capitalism: The E-Business Revolution and the Design of 21st Century Companies and Markets, John Wiley, New York, NY, 2000.