Letter: Information technology failures in modern business

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your coverage of failures in computer projects glimpses the tip of an iceberg. Much survey material published during the past three years suggests that the rate of failure in implementing information technology in the private sector may be as high as 80 per cent, if the criterion for success is meeting the objectives established at the outset of the project. As many as one in 10 projects are thought to fail in implementation.

Many organisations automate processes without questioning the validity of these processes. Systems are built according to an organisational model that was pre-computer and pre-telecommunications, that generally is hierarchical and operates in departmental compartments. This structure fails to support modern business, which has had to address task integration, the compression of business processes and the concurrent performance of tasks, in order to function competitively in the modern world.

We talk of information technology. The word information is key. Any software solution that concentrates on functionality (as most are) is necessarily biased towards the transient needs of the organisation at the time it is purchased. What this means for the purchaser is costly operational work-arounds to support the deficiencies of the system. Folly at the time of the decision is measured as expense after the fact. Until we recognise that change is an inevitable component of doing business, we will continue to have rotten information technology.

Yours sincerely,

GEOFFREY WILKINS

Chief Executive

Solaris Information Systems

London, SE1

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