Steve Humby, newly-appointed head of IS at global pharmaceutical company Bayer, has said his number one task is to harmonise disparate IT systems across the whole of Europe to make them ready for e-business.
Humby said the legacy systems he inherited - SAP R/3 and some R/2 on Unix across nine European country groups - have to be made into a seamless whole. Humby's aim is a common applications platform linked by high-bandwidth backbones to enable e-business for sales and procurement and to optimise the company's research through knowledge management.
Humby said, "Bayer's IS had been developed on a local basis, paid for locally. Local markets have changed to become more global so we are adapting our organisation and processes to support that. We need to organise IS on a continental basis instead of on a country basis."
Humby was confident of his ability to succeed because of the influence wielded by IT in the boardroom today. "There is recognition that IT is a driving force of the business and a key to business success. Technology is now a principle enabler," he said.
But he said a rapidly-changing supplier community can hinder attempts to harmonise a global business. "They come and go all the time. A company you dealt with 18 months ago is quite a different entity today," Humby said.