Tesco has thrown down the gauntlet. In embarking on the world's most ambitious standardisation programme, it has set a challenge for its IT teams to work with business leaders and build the applications to support standard processes.
In the global economy, business process standardisation is the only game in town. It allows businesses to compare local performance in the same terms, change processes from a single template, and support processes with standard technology and training. Businesses become more intelligent, more agile, and cheaper to run. In theory.
In practice, it takes skill. IT managers must understand the needs of business peers at an unprecedented level of detail. Relationships with a diverse range of professionals have never been more vital. Cultural barriers and management inertia will always be in the way. And the approach will be different according to sector and historical context.
In finance, HSBC's global e-commerce strategy allows it to deliver systems rapidly and at low cost to different brands.
In the public sector, police forces are striving to create standard processes for collecting intelligence in order to build a national criminal intelligence system.
Technical approaches will also differ. Tesco is supporting processes with new applications, but others will use existing application features knitted together under a service oriented architecture.
Now Tesco has put IT at the heart of its global ambition, it is time for the IT profession to rise to the challenge.