From the Back Cover
Over the past several decades, information technology (IT) has radically altered the basis of business competition. When American Airlines introduced the SABRE airline reservations system and Bank of America rolled out ERMA, its automated check-processing system, these companies did not just improve efficiency and productivity, they revolutionized the entire airline and banking industries. Yet, argue the authors of Waves of Change, the actual development of the technology, while requiring immense skill, is only part of a successful competitive transformation. A crucial - and more challenging - element is the ability of the firm's leadership to adapt the organization to take advantage of the new technology. Waves of Change examines how management teams at American Airlines and Bank of America, starting in the 1950s, developed IT designs that changed the rules of the game for their competitors. From these cases, the authors craft a framework for an IT-driven strategy that rings true in industry-leading contemporary transformations at American Hospital Supply/Baxter Travenol, Frito-Lay, and United Services Automobile Association (USAA). The analysis discloses a common pattern or developmental "cascade" that is evolutionary rather than visionary. The key actors, a CEO who champions IT implementation, a technology specialist or "maestro" who also has business knowledge, and a skilled technical team, collaborate initially to solve a data processing crisis. Out of the solution emerges a commitment to continuous learning and, eventually, an IT competence - driven by the energy of the maestro and the guidance of the CEO, who weds changing IT functions to market shifts. An increase in the scopeof IT throughout the firm leads to its use in enabling organizational structure and driving strategy. Even as the company achieves market leadership and competitors begin to mimic the technology, the organization continues to evolve its IT strategy. Through the five in-depth and engaging company histories, Waves of Change divulges the thinking and the moves of the players. The book presents valuable lessons for today's managers on how to be leaders in implementing technology, how to play catch-up and then gain the lead, how to understand the danger of not monitoring or aggressively managing technological change, and how to recognize the impact of timing and corporate culture on executing an IT-driven strategy.
About the Author
McKenney is retired from teaching at Harvard.