Linking strategic information systems concepts to practice: systems integration at the portfolio level

  • Hamilton D
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Surveys during the past two decades have consistently shown that many of the most critical management concerns with information systems arise at the portfolio, rather than application, level. Architecture-driven planning with a view to the implementation of integrated information systems structures has been widely canvassed as a means of dealing with portfolio- level issues, particularly the problems of inconsistent data and uncoordinated processes which have affected many organizations in recent years. The benefits anticipated from this type of initiative have been such that many organizations have persisted with architecture-based strategies despite reports of high failure rates. This paper reports on some research into IS integration planning in the organization Telstra (formerly Telecom Australia) during a period of 40 years. The research was conducted as an interpretive case study, with practitioners' assessments and perspectives on IS planning being incorporated in the data analysis. The focus of the study was on four critical assumptions, which were identified during an initial review of the theoretical literature as having to hold true for an organization to expect success with this form of planning. The study revealed that none of these assumptions held reliably throughout the period studied, a point fundamental to understanding why relatively little progress was made towards published integration targets. The paper then canvasses the view that though traditionally understood as blueprints for implementation, information systems architectures could be reconceptualized as knowledge assets, with independent value as sources of core planning concepts. The conclusion drawn is that their use in this type of role could facilitate the achievement of many, if not all, of the benefits anticipated from more comprehensive approaches.

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  • D Hamilton

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