The giant technology suppliers pose financial risk to enterprises, existential risk to IT, and may become competitors, but it’s impossible to operate without them. IT can maintain its leverage and position through a combination of operational vendor governance and ever-deeper strategic integration with the business.
Start-ups and niche vendors provide new sources of competitive advantage, but enterprises need creative approaches and new rules to work with them successfully. Traditional legal and procurement practices squash small and innovative vendors, but risk still has to be managed.
The successful digital enterprise will not walk alone. Communication and collaboration with business partners and users, neighbors, vendors, and even industry competitors will be critical to both countering the power of the monopolies and discovering critical innovations.
IT can — and needs to — play offense and defense at the same time by taking a seat at the executive table. All business is becoming digital, and for enterprises to survive and thrive, they need IT to lead the integration of business, technology and strategy. And if IT doesn’t succeed at this, the giant technology and service vendors are all too willing to try to take their place.