This is the end (1 of x)

It is with some emotion that I announce you The End. Not yet the end of the MBA. But today was the last class of the last course (Decision Sciences for Business). So I want to take the opportunity to put some light on a commodity object that was the most used object during these two years: the red Douwe-Egberts cup for coffee or tea! They were able to keep us awake for some of the boring classes and kept us involved in the most interesting classes too ;-)

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Note the chocolate Easter eggs filling it: thanks Neuhaus and thanks Vesna for providing such excellent chocolate! :-p

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One case – one exam (IT)

130419-alcanOn Thursday we took our penultimate exam, Value-Added Entreprise IT. Surprisingly there was only one question: “Solve the case” ;-) No, seriously there were 4 sub-questions to help us suggest a solution for the case. But the surprise was (IMHO – YMMV) that there was only one (big) case to solve: Alcan, taking on the challenge of IT management in a global business context. It’s a classical HBR case (there is also an Alcan case about environment issues for those who remember CSR/EHS). For those interested here is a presentation by Cihad Acar and some solutions from the Fox School of Business.

Since I unfortunately couldn’t attend many classes I was happy to see that readings could bring some ideas to answer the case and that I shouldn’t be too far from The Truth ;-) One thing that I was wondering is what is (or was) the general business strategy of Alcan at that time. In his class Prof. Viaene stressed that the (Corporate) Strategic Context should drive the IT/IS Strategy. I missed the global strategic context in the (part of the) case we received for the exam. I could see that some of the business division didn’t necessarily made sense (except if you need a conglomerate or a highly vertically integrated company): packaging for instance. Splitting the company would see efforts focused on core values (and the IT Strategy would follow and would have been easier to implement).

Now when you read the Wikipedia page of Alcan, you realise Rio Tinto acquired Alcan Inc. in 2007 (one year after the case) in a US$38 billion deal. But soon after it decided to sell its Engineered Products and Packaging business groups (something that was ultimately done 2 years ago, in 2011). This lead me to another question: we learned best practises for IT governance when dealing with the result of an acquisition (or a very anarchic organisation) – what about best practises for IT governance when dealing with a split? If Robert Ouellette succeeded in implementing an ERP system in the Engineerd Products division before 2011, how would the new IT organisation cope with this existing, heavyweight ERP after being sold to Apollo (sic) Global Management for instance? A quick thought tells me that they could keep the benefits of an integrated communication system offered by the ERP in place (without the sunk costs of implementation), being then a small piece in a bigger puzzle and needing to communicate with 3rd parties now outside their company.

Btw if you look at the management of Rio Tinto Alcan, the CFO is still responsible for IS&T, the person responsible for IT still holds a VP position but it’s not Robert Ouellette anymore (although he really exists but works now elsewhere) ;-)

Photo credit: Stan O’Neill (holding paddle) and Elmer Burley (guiding ingot into furnace), two firemen in the Remelt department, feed ingots to the re-melting furnace at the Aluminum Company of Canada by Library and Archives Canada (licence CC-by)

Here comes another Vlerick FTMBA student in the press …

retirement-bag-dollarsAmong the nearly 200 participants in the BusinessBecause When I Retire competition Vlad Damian, a Vlerick FTMBA, shared his vision of his world at retirement time, how he thinks the world will have changed at that time. It starts with …

By 2060 my grandchildren will ask me to explain what an email is and how it was used.

And I let you read the full post here. The story is nicely written (the challenge said no more than 300 words) and touches on communication bio-IT, merging two promising fields: biotechnology and IT. Vlad made it to the final, great!

It reminded the Enjoy Change campaign Vlerick started at the same time as its rebranding – without gifts ;-) But more importantly I was wondering how to apply all these nice idea, from a company perspective … All these ideas are fine but is it really how to create value with IT? What would be the strategic alignment of such products? What about the required IT infrastructure? What would be the role of the CIO in such organisation, his/her role in relation with the CSO (Chief Scientific Officer Ⓡ TM)? How would this IT portfolio be presented? And even if Vlad started mentioning it already, how would IT security and potential crisis be managed? As you can see I started to revise for the Value Added Entreprise IT course ;-)

Anyway, congratulations, Vlad!

(You can also find Vlad on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
Photo credits: Retirement by 401(K) 2013 on Flickr (licence CC-by-sa)

Dilbert and MBA speak ;-)

I can’t resist re-posting this Dilbert strip …

;-)

Do you want more? How to Speak Like a Business School Grad? Bullshit Bingo!

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