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Strategy-Technology Alignment: Deriving Business Value from ICT Projects

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Strategy-Technology Alignment: Deriving Business Value from ICT Projects by Paul Griffiths
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In the late 1980s Union Fenosa of Spain, a large electric utility, decided it would try and get some payback on the tens of millions of US dollars it had paid Andersen Consulting to develop its information systems. It decided to do so by setting up a consulting firm aimed at utilities that would customise Union Fenosa’s state-of-the-art systems to the specific needs of those organisations.

In the early 1990s I was employed by Union Fenosa to start their con-sulting business in Latin America under the brand name Ibersis. Because we had a large contract in Uruguay, it was decided that this company should be set up in Montevideo. The business model was that Ibersis would recruit young and bright professionals (e.g., engineers, accountants), give them a consulting skills training, and then send them to on-the-job training for a few months in key business areas (e.g., distribution, generation, customer service) at Union Fenosa in Spain. After this experience the consultants would be ready to send to the Group’s consulting Clients around the world for a significant daily rate.

In 1992 we entered a new service area that opened up a huge growth potential. I could easily say that I had a vision that transformed Ibersis radically, but I would be deceiving both the reader and myself. The truth of the story is that I had found an opportunity to place a few plant-maintenance consultants at utilities in the region so I needed to have them taken in the trainee programme at Union Fenosa. In those days the company owned and operated two nuclear power stations, so the ideal thing would be to have them placed there where, I imagined, they would learn the leading practices in plant maintenance.

The issue was that when I called my friends and bosses Santiago Roura and Javier Lopez-Costa in Madrid to obtain these placements I found them non-committal and rather difficult to persuade. However, I noticed that every time I called them about that initiative, they kept mentioning in an as-a-matter-of-fact way that a German software company they were working with in Eastern Europe had approached them to see if we could develop together the Latin American market, and would I meet them to assess the potential for this. I was really not very interested in the German software, but I realised that if I did not respond to this request I would not make much progress with the three plant-maintenance positions that were my focus at the time. So I decided to catch a flight to Madrid and go and meet Jürgen Nitzche, the head of the company for southern Europe, and Hans-Werner Hector, one of the four founders of the company. I came out of that meeting with an action plan to jointly tackle Latin America, and went straight to Roura’s office - with this action plan I was sure he would now listen more carefully to my plant-maintenance petition. I flew back to Montevideo the following day, happy that I had secured the three positions. I had also committed to sending another four young professionals to work at the German software company´s Madrid office to learn how to deploy the software solution.

Academic Conferences Publishing International; January 2011
260 pages; ISBN 9781908272614
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Title: Strategy-Technology Alignment: Deriving Business Value from ICT Projects
Author: Paul Griffiths