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VAR500 Keynote: The Days Of Micromangement Are Over

Businesses that aren't dynamic in their approach to projects can no longer keep up, says investor and former services chief.

That was the word from Jeroen Tas, a partner in investment firm Exigen Capital and former president and COO of EDS-acquired MphasIS, who on Tuesday urged IT executives to not only heed the lessons of globalization but apply them to each and every business project.

Kicking off Everything Channel's VAR500-CIO 50 Conference in New York Tuesday, Tas said that the "flat" world of global business was fraught with new risk but also offered an unprecedented opportunity to draw from talent pools throughout the world -- in other words, to collaborate.

Twenty-first century business demands -- in the era of social networking and shaky spending environments -- no longer favor micromanagement, Tas said. Businesses have to embrace the network and be as agile as possible.

He referenced the Spanish apparel company Zara, for example, describing how Zara uses realtime data analytics to determine sales movement in stores and is prepared to drop certain clothing lines within days if they aren't selling.

That's the way the world is now, Tas explained, where long-range planning is one consideration, but hardly the only consideration.

"They know where they're heading, but their first objective is to be totally indebted to what the market wants right now," he said of Zara, and said the same lessons could be applied to IT companies of all sizes.

Citing Gartner research suggesting $700 billion is wasted on ill-conceived, ill-executed IT projects every year, he urged VARs and CIOs to think of what they're doing in terms of a business venture that drives value for the businesses involved, not just a project that generates income.

"Things will change. If you get into your project, there is bound to be change and bound to be ambiguity about the requirements," he said. "It's important that the business case is dynamic, in that every three months you restate the case and look at how requirements have changed and the environment has changed."

"The biggest enemy of a successful project," Tas added, "is when people think and assume they know everything."

Ideally, the business projects of the 21st centruy are business-outcome-based and have a lean and agile approach with an eye toward risk management, he explained.

The days of micromanagement in silos, in other words, are over.

"Risk can come out of the blue," he said. "And it increasingly will come out of the blue, thanks to how we're all interconnected."

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