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IT Infrastructure for Strategic Agility

Title Author(s) Type Topic(s) Comments Date
IT Infrastructure for Strategic AgilityBroadbent, Marianne
Subramani, Mani
Weill, Peter
Working PaperIT Investment and Portfolio Management
Business Agility
Abstract: Investing in IT infrastructure is one of the most challenging tasks facing senior managers who often feel ill equipped to make these decisions. Investing in the right infrastructure at the right time enables rapid implementation of future electronically based business initiatives and cost reduction of current business processes. This paper presents a framework for senior executives to view IT infrastructure in business terms and to lead in making investment decisions. By studying 180 electronically based business initiatives in 89 top performing enterprises we identified the specific infrastructure capabilities needed for different types of business initiatives and how this capability is provided as an integrated IT infrastructure. An integrated IT infrastructure has ten clusters of IT infrastructure services fine tuned to the enterprise's set of electronically based business initiatives. Using the frameworks for describing IT based business initiatives, executives can identify the future family of initiatives (i.e., their desired strategic agility) the enterprise desires to lead their industry with. This is a process of strategic choice and balancing investing in longer-term agility with shorter-term cost minimization. Successful enterprises get this infrastructure balance right more often than not because they make regular, systematic modular and targeted investments while having a clear picture of their own overall infrastructure capability and how each incremental investment adds value. To lead on multiple dimensions in strategic agility required an integrated infrastructure with high capabilities in all infrastructure clusters and a deliberate approach to data management to manage conflicts. The paper concludes with a set of suggested steps to link an enterprise's desired strategic agility with the above average infrastructure capability needed.

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