This article is Part 2 in our Information Systems series.

Part 1: 6 Questions Executive Teams Should Be Asking About Their Information Systems

Part 2: Time To Reengineer IT – Again (current)

Part 3: How Things Should Work

Part 4: New Approaches, New Attitudes

Part 5: Core And Edge

Part 6: The Third Way

Part 7: Grapevine

Part 8: Better Methods At Work

Part 9: Toward A New Normal

Time To Reengineer IT – Again

By Jim Champy

When Mike Hammer and I published Reengineering the Corporation in 1992, we saw the world of business frozen in complexity and outdated business processes. Work that seemed simple was taking too long to do and costing too much. Mike’s favorite expression was “don’t automate, obliterate.” We didn’t want companies just to automate old business processes. We wanted companies to focus on rethinking work processes first, then apply technology.

The role of information technology is dramatically different today from what it was in 1992. The Internet, the cloud, and mobility all conspire to make information technology the great enabler of dramatic business process change. Yet companies seem strangely frozen once again – not in old processes, but in technology itself. The investments that companies have made in enterprise-wide systems have created efficiencies and helped standardized processes, but the scale and complexity of these systems now make both technological and operational changes difficult to do.

It’s time for companies to step back and radically rethink how systems get built and how information technology can enable process change. Companies need to be increasingly nimble and responsive to customer and market needs. No customer wants to hear that it will take a year or two for enhanced service. And no company executive wants to hear that an application is going to cost millions when consumers are buying apps for a few dollars apiece.

But the answer to reengineering IT is not simply to go to the Apple Store. It will take a combination of using new technologies and applying new development processes – processes that leverage the vast amount of information that companies now have available.

Up next: How Things Should Work