Effective IT Summit 2007 story: 3PI

Paul Coby, CIO at British Airways kicked off the 2nd day of the conference, discussing IT-enabled business transformation at the airline. He was both engaging and honest (taking comments about lost baggage and queues at the online check-in bag drop on the chin).

He outlined how BA set itself some ambitious transformational targets, – 100% e-tickets, 50% customer self-service – and the role of IT in attaining them. The targets were deliberately high (almost to the point of being unachievable) for two good reasons: first to get the attention of the business and second because of the tendency to do just enough to reach targets. There are four “golden” rules that apply to the IT initiatives that support this transformation:

  • Simple and compelling customer propositions
  • Design processes for use by the customer
  • Do it right first time
  • A single solution across all departments

These rules, he believes, are key to turning IT architecture into business strategy. When discussing the last point he raised an issue which we address in the book: the difficulty of getting different business units and departments to pull in the same direction given that they are each focused with laser-like precision on the operations within their own domain. That’s why its so critical for organisations to work towards coordinated goals and objectives, something which BA’s “golden” rules capture – albeit at a high level.

Paul also discussed the organisational structure he established within IT to support transformation: global IT operations; delivery of new IT capabilities; and IT planning and business change. The IT planning and business change organisation is where the 3PI of the title comes in. It’s the approach followed when evaluating new IT initiaitives:

  • Proposition – review the proposed initiative in light of other proposals
  • Process – understand the end-to-end business process (not the shadow that IT casts on that business process)
  • People – consider usability and training
  • IT – finally there’s the technology

In the book we discuss an IT Governance Board process, which covers similar ground to 3PI and focusses on gaining consensus across the organisation (which is also key to adherance with BA’s fourth “golden” rules). We also highlight the pivotal role that business process plays in the establishment of a common language as part of an enterprise architecture process.

Whilst Paul’s presentation made me feel a little more comfortable about the advice we are providing in The Technology Garden, he had a few things to say about the IT market which will leave some feeling a little less comfortable. When it comes to what’s hot and exciting, he called out Google, eBay, iTunes, Skype, Wikipedia and India. What’s not: big hardware, software and consultancy suppliers!


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