IMBOK domains - Business change


The best information systems succeed in delivering benefits through the achievement of change within the business systems.

But people do not enjoy change, especially when it makes new demands upon their skills in the ways that new information systems often do. Consider the case where a new sales system allows sales staff to deal with sales orders over the Internet, or over the telephone, where previously they were solely concerned with mail and fax orders. The previous expectation was to deal with an order within a week (say), but now customers expect the order to be dealt with in minutes. Telephone and computer skills that were previously needed only to deal with queries and complaints now need to be extended to deal with sales details, and with the negotiation of terms and discounts. At the start that is not seen as a problem, but in the event it causes staff stress and they will resent this kind of change unless it is properly managed.


Related research: Information technology changes the way you compete (yes, really!)

McFarlan, F.W., 1984. Information technology changes the way you compete. Harvard Business Review 62, 98–103.

This seminal work by Warren McFarlan is probably the oldest reference I dare offer, but it is the seed from which acres of new thinking emerged about how to manage the different kinds of information systems investments, that each lead (if we were stop and think about it) to a different kind of competitive advantage. I would refer you particularly to McFarlan's 'Exhibit 1' - a 2x2 matrix based on the 'Boston Box' - that has been used extensively in subsequent literature. It is a short and very clearly written article that will help you organise your thoughts about information systems investments in a completely new way.

Related research: Thinking more deeply and specifically about IT-induced change

Henfridsson, O., Mathiassen, L., Svahn, F., 2014. Managing technological change in the digital age: the role of architectural frames. Journal of Information Technology.

Based on the digitisation of material products - just one specific domain wherein IT has a huge impact - Henfridsson and colleagues introduce the notion of 'architectural frames' to address the problems of managing technological change in the digital age and the increased speed with which digitised products can be redesigned and re-specified. This paper is interesting because of the deep thinking based on a range of prior models that contributed to their thinking. Not an easy read for the casually interested person, but a good example of deeply reflective academic work. They introduce the word 'architecture' in order to try and set a new idea in place; this reminded me of an earlier era in my own work where, with colleagues, we decided to NEVER use the word architecture, because it was being used where otherwise-clever people did not know what they were actually thinking about. Read this paper, see what you think! It is a dramatic contrast to the elegant simplicity of McFarlan's earlier and more generalised work.