Editorial – Battle for the borderland

Editorial - Battle for the borderland

Borders are interesting places, areas of great conflict but also of immense creativity. They also define relationships with almost brutal clarity: is the true nature of the relationship between England and Scotland more accurately reflected in the bloody clashes around Berwick or the more discreet encounters at the Court of St James and Holyrood? Management consultancy has its own Marches, the area of overlap between consultancy and the strategic design, recommendation and implementation of IT projects.

These are fiercely fought over, often with raids deep into opposing territory.

The zeal of the consultant (who may, it is true, specialise in IT) not to be pigeonholed as an “IT Consultant” is almost matched by the energy with which many firms are pursuing implementation and outsourcing projects down to the last nut and bolt. Meanwhile, IT consultants attempt to assert their credentials as management advisors and process reengineers.

Perhaps it’s the distinction between the chemist and the pharmacist: they both want you to take drugs, but the motivations are different.

Normally the touchstone by which the true consultancy project is judged is change: is this a real transformation, or just an acquisition of new equipment? However, as IT projects become more strategic, it is difficult to imagine a major IT installation which did not entail at least a revision of a company’s processes. Equally hard to imagine is a major corporate transformation which did not impact on IT infrastructure. We view the battle for the higher ground as the key-IT strategy should always be driven by business imperatives.

However, this must also be a reflexive process: strategy may be the driver, but IT is continually revising the roadmap, as technology throws up new analogies. This is the area we explore in this issue, where IT and corporate strategy interact – on the Borderland.

Meanwhile, our website (managementconsultancy.vnu.co.uk) has recently expanded its links and added an on-line discussion group. The search facility will locate items of interest from the VNU publishing empire (see page 6).

A new service, JobNet, (jobnet.vnu.co.uk) allows readers to search for work across VNU’s entire portfolio of business and IT titles.

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