This has been observed human behavior for centuries.
“Two kinds of blindness are easily combined, so that those who do not see really, appear to see what is not.” Tertullian (155–240 AD)
A modern national fighting force normally comprises land, sea and air forces, as well as the logistics capability to conduct sustained operations. Each has well trained people and powerful assets at their government’s disposal. These components however, would be ineffective without state of the art C4I2: Command & Control, Communications (Comms), Computers, Intelligence and Interoperability (Int/op).
Why then do some enterprises invest heavily in their ability to conduct operations, but under-invest in the back-office enablers that make their operations effective?
First, let us define these C4I2 functions:
Command: Exercising authority to drive an objective.
Control: Verifying and correcting to accomplish the objective.
Comms: The means to exercise command.
Computers: Computer systems and their internal compatibility.
Intelligence: Collection, analysis and distribution of information.
Int/op: Interworking seamlessly with external systems.
Bearing these definitions in mind, let’s consider some of the many reasons why some organisations under-invest in enterprise back-office systems. If you scratch beneath the surface, none seem all that convincing. Are these reasons or excuses?
- Higher priority operational imperatives: This will always be the case, but there will come a pivot point after which a catastrophe will happen.
- Insufficient budget: If the enterprise cannot afford the investment now, it will never be able to afford recovery from a catastrophe.
- Inability for leaders to take an enterprise view: Tribalism will continue to cause long-term harm to the enterprise.
- The extent and duration of the likely disruption to the enterprise: Again, this will always be the case, however the pivot point will eventuate.
- Previous expensive failed attempts: You would expect that the enterprise has learned from its past mistakes.
- Too busy to implement anything new: When the catastrophe occurs, you will never be busier.
- We have always managed (by ignoring growing pains): Working harder and harder is not sustainable.
- We don’t have the skills and consultants don’t have to live with their mistakes: Get the skills and/or get in the consultants. If you need help, you need help.
- Build on what already is: This is the expedient approach to expand on the existing patchwork thereby increasing complexity. Extending the same nonsense, never makes sense.
- Difficulty in making the business case: From a risk perspective, describe the catastrophe to be avoided.
Imagine if the Generals demanded greater numbers of better tanks, ships, aircraft, and more people, more munitions, more fuel and supplies.
Imagine they continued to rely on runners, semaphore and the carrier pigeon as the means of delivering orders, receiving reports, and adjusting settings in response to what was going on in the modern battle-space.
Imagine such a force trying to work effectively with coalition partners and allies.
Imagine them coming up against an adversary that takes C4I2 seriously.
Yes – imagine the catastrophe!
Call out those who refuse to see or who see what is not. In the struggle for enterprise survival, the criticality of fit for purpose back-office systems (C4I2) cannot be underplayed. In the words of Chinese general, military strategist, and philosopher Sun Tzu (544–496 BC):
“Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.”
This has been known for centuries. Seize the day!