It Infrastructure for Strategic Agility

32 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2002  

Peter Weill

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Center for Information Systems Research (CISR)

Mani Subramani

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Carlson School of Management

Marianne Broadbent

The University of Melbourne - Melbourne Business School

Date Written: April 2002

Abstract

Investing in IT infrastructure is one of the most challenging tasks facing senior managers who often feel ill equipped to make these decisions. Investing in the right infrastructure at the right time enables rapid implementation of future electronically based business initiatives and cost reduction of current business processes. This paper presents a framework for senior executives to view IT infrastructure in business terms and to lead in making investment decisions. By studying 180 electronically based business initiatives in 89 top performing enterprises we identified the specific infrastructure capabilities needed for different types of business initiatives and how this capability is provided as an integrated IT infrastructure. An integrated IT infrastructure has ten clusters of IT infrastructure services fine tuned to the enterprise's set of electronically based business initiatives. Using the frameworks for describing IT based business initiatives, executives can identify the future family of initiatives (i.e., their desired strategic agility) the enterprise desires to lead their industry with. This is a process of strategic choice and balancing investing in longer-term agility with shorter-term cost minimization. Successful enterprises get this infrastructure balance right more often than not because they make regular, systematic modular and targeted investments while having a clear picture of their own overall infrastructure capability and how each incremental investment adds value. To lead on multiple dimensions in strategic agility required an integrated infrastructure with high capabilities in all infrastructure clusters and a deliberate approach to data management to manage conflicts. The paper concludes with a set of suggested steps to link an enterprise's desired strategic agility with the above average infrastructure capability needed.

Keywords: IT, Infrastructure, IT Infrastructure, Strategy, Agility, Strategic Agility

Suggested Citation

Weill, Peter and Subramani, Mani and Broadbent, Marianne, It Infrastructure for Strategic Agility (April 2002). MIT Sloan Working Paper No. 4235-02. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=317307 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.317307

Peter Weill (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) ( email )

Sloan School of Management
5 Cambridge Center, NE25-775
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-2930 (Phone)
617-253-4424 (Fax)

Mani Subramani

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Carlson School of Management ( email )

321 19th Avenue South
IDSc Department
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States
612-624-8030 (Phone)

Marianne Broadbent

The University of Melbourne - Melbourne Business School

200 Leicester Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053 3186
Australia

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