DIVIDE OR CONVERGE?

Gilbert Gonzalez
Muma Case Review  •  Volume 1  •  2016  •  pp. 1-23
Gilbert Gonzalez, founder and CEO of Mission Critical Solutions (MCS), was reflecting on the path forward for his company. MCS maintained and updated a five-year strategic plan each year since its inception in 1990. In the early years, the strategic plan focused on the key strategic factors (KSFs) and resulted in a narrow mission. Year after year, that focus on the KSFs was rewarded by the market. Doing the most important things well kept the organization focused and efficient.

The consistently evolving mission of the organization necessitated adding new products, services, and solutions. In the early 1990s, deploying PCs, implementing local area networks (LANs), and providing onsite support met the challenges their customers faced. A few years later, the company’s clients’ needs led to the addition of a Wide Area Network (WAN) solution to aggregate offices and link applications. By 1996, information technologies (IT) and telecommunications began to converge. Common structured cable plants and digital trunks sharing voice and data traffic were new and mandatory elements of the clients’ solutions. Subtly, the technologies evolved and converged. Internet Protocol (IP) Telephony and Unified Communications converged onto the clients’ LAN/WAN networks. It was clear that most technology would speak IP in the future. In the early 2000s, building automation, audio video (AV), security, surveillance, and control system endpoints converged onto the network. The trend of unusual devices converging onto the network, also known as “the Internet of things,” will continue. Wireless innovations and mobility meant that technology could move not just around the facility, but also around the world.

For MCS, the end result of this phenomenon was a group of specialized departments and teams: information technologies, passive cabling systems, electrical systems, building automation and controls, audio video, security and surveillance, and unified communications. All of these departments, staffed 200 associates strong, were coordinated by the project management team, and collaborated to meet the requirements of the company’s clients. Thus, the marketing elevator speech for MCS required a tall building! Their clients expressed surprise and confusion at the breadth of services offered. While the devices had converged, the clients’ perception of their vendors and providers had not. The question at hand was whether MCS should stay converged in a functional organization strategy with capability-based teams, or organize into separate standalone entities with unique identities and separate overheads, focusing more on the individual capability-based technology specialization.
Information Systems, Management, Small Business
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