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by Vault Consulting Editors | January 20, 2010


I consider myself a business person first, technology person second. However, like most of the increasing population of iPhone/DROID-toting gadget fiends, I've embraced these new state-of-the-art tools, from GMail, Google Calendar and the other Google cloud application elegant solutions with smart Android or iPhone devices and more to organize and sync my contacts, messaging, tasks and projects.

I can tell you on my corporate intranet, it will take me 10 minutes and several search results pages to find a major sub-site needed for basic research, submitting time and forecasts and other basic tasks. It takes me 10 minutes to open up my e-mail program. We do not have webmail other than a pilot program that is only accessible internally without another pilot program for secure VPN access. To submit my time, it must be done on the corporate laptop. This means I likely am carrying two laptops around—something neither my back nor airport security appreciates. It strikes me as somewhat hypocritical, since, as a firm, we provide these innovative solutions for clients.

Business and government used to be so far ahead of personal technology—people were in awe of what massive mainframes could accomplish, the advances in university laboratories and more. That is no longer the case. Now, an iPhone app created in a small apartment in the South Loop of Chicago is immediately available and likely further advanced than anything to come from a corporate IT group mired in committee approvals.

Some companies at least partially "get it"—mine included. They are embracing tools such as wikis, social tagging and even supporting some to use their own personal tech gear. However, they have a long way to go, especially with regard to my tiny 200-meg email inbox versus being able to instantly search years of emails with GMail. The productivity value here should be obvious. In addition, the corporate wikis I have seen are more like glossary-level knowledge, rather than embracing the tools and adding to the entries every day with new knowledge.

With perhaps the exception of Salesforce as an iPhone application, large-scale enterprise software is conspicuously behind. Of course, it's like steering a tanker with all the processes and controls that have to be considered, but that's no excuse.

The rich knowledge that comes through countless streams of e-mails, CCs, forwards and replies is stored in a poorly organized way in a limited individual inbox—a highly inappropriate way of dealing with an influx of information. Project success would be greatly facilitated by a more modern knowledge management system (a fully utilized wiki system or, even better, Google Wave) more suited to deal with the conversations, validation and evolving understanding of businesses processes throughout a project's lifetime.

Often it is heard, IT Doesn't Matter. I'd say you could you could make it matter by showing the productivity gain possible.

--Taylor O'Neal is a supply chain consultant for a major consulting firm. He graduated from Miami University School of Business in 2005 and Indiana University's Kelley Masters of Information Systems program in 2006.


Filed Under: Consulting