How did IT lose control of ‘Digital’?

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How did IT lose control of ‘Digital‘?

The dot com debacle was the fault of short-sighted management and the Y2K ‘bug’ creating a development vacuum allowing ‘marketing’ to take control of ecommerce and internet budgets, whilst the ICT professionals were distracted.  £Millions were blown and the marketeers and entrepreneurial con-men just walked away.

Remember Boo.Com? Liquidators KPMG were called in on May 17, 2000. To quote Richard Wray in the Guardian, Monday 16 May 2005, “Boo.com spent fast and died young but its legacy shaped internet retailing”.

In 2000, Britain’s dotcom dream died as fashion “e-tailer” Boo.com, became the UK’s first high-profile internet collapse.  More than £80m from investors, including JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Bernard Arnault, chairman of luxury group LVMH, and the Benetton family, went south.

The stories of lavish lifestyles and lack of proper management control became a familiar theme as a host of so-called business-to-consumer or B2C sites and other online start-ups went to the wall, and funding for internet ventures dried up, share prices plummeted and bankers tightened their belts.

Boo.com’s high-profile founders, a Swedish poetry critic, Ernst Malmsten and former Vogue model, Kajsa Leander, found themselves blamed for the excesses of a generation of tie-less wannabes.

As for Y2K, as far back as the 1970’s, the limited capacity of 8- and 16-bit systems resulted in dates being abbreviated to six characters ‘ddmmyy’. As a result, 2000 would be the same as 1900 [‘00’], and the world would end.

Incredibly, the Y2K problem was the subject of a 1984 book, ‘Computers in Crisis’ by Jerome and Marilyn Murray; reissued in 1996 by McGraw-Hill entitled ‘The Year 2000 Computing Crisis’. The first mention of the Problem online was Friday, 18 January 1985, by Usenet poster Spencer Bolles.

Marketing is a short term near horizon, buiness, about campaigns with indefinite, unmeasurable results.  To quote Mark Ritson in Marketing Week, 13 Jun 2017, “Why can’t marketers see that digital metrics are bullshit?  Digital metrics are a mess of confusion and obfuscation, but it seems clear most marketeers have bought into this opaque and over-complicated world.

 

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Due Diligence – the Key to successful Change?

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Due Diligence – the Key to successful Change?

Someone asked me, “If you’re given the role of Programme Director,  what are the first things you do?”

Frequently, projects and programmes are over specified (too ambitious), over promised, under funded and late starting, with poor plans and negligible provision for contingency, realistic risk avoidance and / or issue management plans – people plan for success invariably failing to anticipate failure – if you don;t assume there are going to be problems, why would you include contingency time, resource and budget to manage them?

Reports of progress are over stated and issues and risks concealed or undhappyPMerstated.

The delivery team are sceptical and soon become concerned that failure will be blamed on them, but, these are the people most likely to know what’s going well and what isn’t, and what is required to address / resolve the challenges.  Happy people deliver good quality and productivity, frightened people don’t turn up!

In complex portfolios or programmes, the slippage of one key activity in one project, activity or task could stop or delay the entire enterprise being a significant dependency across the plans sitting at the intersection of multiple critical paths – the little things matter.

Care needs to be taken in reviewing motives – if a project features multiple suppliers or service providers, none of them wants to be the cause of or the victim of delay, but they will all be looking for opportunities to extend the scope of their obligations and increase their revenue – extensions.  However, extensions in one area often result in scope creep in others and costs rise.

It is essential to start every assignment / new role with a comprehensive Due Diligence exercise which can take anything from a few days to weeks, depending on the scale, circumstances and the state of the portfolio, programme and / or project.

Delivering big changes on time, budget and to expected scope of requirements, is not easy, and although businesses and service providers (marketing companies in particular) may trumpet success, a comparison of the final outcome and the original scope can be very revealing.

AGILE is very popular with both internal and external suppliers; it provides the capacity for lower start up costs; and the attendant need for senior management approvals, early deliveries and continuous improvement, additions to functionality, etc.. However, it also enables projects to run and run, never ending, and work to be charged to the project repeatedly, when there are repeated failures to deliver, and costs to run rampant below the senior management radar.

Should you require any further information, please get in touch.
Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Cheers John

John L. Evans FCMI, FIC, FBCS CITP, MCIPS.
+44 7957 190 186
+44 203 051 3370

© John L. Evans 2017