This piece originally published in the Bangkok Post.
Every company's technology situation has unique aspects, yet most share a common trait: No matter how much they spend on technology, executives are often disappointed with the results. This creates a tension similar to how Leo Tolstoy described families: "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." And with technology spending expected to grow at 3.1% annually over the next five years, IT leaders feel intense pressure to deliver better results.
This is particularly true at companies embarking on broad digital transformations and searching for effective and efficient ways to self-fund the expansion of their digital capabilities.
How companies achieve cost savings and long-term sustainability depends on their starting point. We find most IT organisations fall into one of three types: neglected, indebted or gold-plated.
Neglected: Some companies spend only enough on technology to maintain current operations and fix problems. Their executives tend to view technology as little more than a cost centre. One oil and gas company, for instance, had grown rapidly while making only limited investments in technology for basic operational needs. When the company acquired a business almost twice its size, it found its existing systems and infrastructure would not scale up to support growth expectations and capture the anticipated synergies. The technology staff was stretched thin, had large gaps in capabilities and wasn't up to the task of making difficult decisions about trade-offs. The challenge was determining where to prioritise investment.
Written by Will Poindexter, a partner with Bain & Co in Chicago and member of the firm's Global IT practice; Florian Hoppe, a partner in Bain's Singapore office; and Sharad Apte, a partner in Bain's Bangkok office.