Seeing the Forest and the Trees

At 8:15 Dave Simon is at his desk sipping coffee in the Sierra Club’s San Francisco headquarters. What he’s thinking about isn’t infrastructure and uptime per se but actually a rather lofty goal: becoming, to borrow IBM-speak, an ‘agile’ business. But to make this happen he has to go back to basics.

What are these basics? As arcane as this may sound, it’s providing an integrated customer-facing Web experience that cuts across SC’s seven business units. Even Simon admits this is somewhat dated by IT standards, but this is agility for SC and, bet’s Simon, a whole lot of other companies as well.

“What’s happened to me is my business units have woken up in the last six months and says ‘Oh, this really applies to me, too’. And that’s different,” says Simon. “And that may sound ‘Well, yea. Sure. You’d want to do that four years ago’ … which I think Dell and the Amazon’s did, but even SBC (the telco); they’re just now getting to where they want to deal with (customers) being completely over the Website.”

Behind The Scenes

But now that everyone is finally on board about the usefulness of the Web, the real challenge is how to make it happen.

“So, basically, after years of not listening, people got almost too excited and want to move too fast,” says Simon. “You can move fast but you can’t move too fast you’ve got to really think about the nuts and bolts about what you are trying to accomplish.”

The nuts and bolts for Simon revolve around tying together outsourcer’s systems that provide order fulfillment and other services with his legacy databases and new, Web applications into a single system (more or less) that synchronizes data automatically, in real-time.

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