At SAPPHIRE NOW 2010, SAP's annual marquis customer event, SAP Co-CEOs Jim Hagemann Snabe and Bill McDermott share insights into how companies strive to align IT strategy with business goals. Three themes: 1) real-time 2) unwired and 3) sustainable.

  1. Real-time. Enterprises need information more quickly; daily, weekly, or monthly updates rarely suffice. At the same time, the amount of data that companies now have available to them is astounding.
  2. Unwired. Firms are increasingly leveraging mobile so that employees, customers, and partners are no longer bound by their IT systems and hampered in decision-making but instead empowered with information and decision tools anywhere. (SAP's acquisition of Sybase adds to their capability in mobile.)
  3. Sustainable. Not just goals towards green and reduction of carbon emissions, companies also want to make sure they get leverage out of their investments; today's technology decisions must make long-term sense on the IT strategy path.

Most organizations who speak with Forrester struggle to balance business goals such as real-time information, mobile access, and sustainability with cost pressures and management of existing IT investments. Firms strive to get the most out of their existing IT investments while balancing investment in newer technologies — such as analytics, mobile devices, or GRC solutions. Increasingly, IT departments are also facing another challenge — as businesses can easily go outside of IT to buy and often self-provision new tools to achieve their goals: SaaS and Web 2.0 solutions and mobile devices such as iPads or BlackBerrys.

What does the convergence of demanding business goals and empowerment for business to go outside of IT mean for sourcing and vendor management professionals? How can they help their firms take advantage of existing investments while also preparing for newer technologies? Sourcing and vendor management can help firms navigate the emerging landscape of suppliers, understand risks and trade-offs, and gain clarity around where newer solutions make sense within the existing IT strategy.

I hope to connect with some of you next week at Forrester's IT Forum in Las Vegas.

Follow me on Twitter @lizherbert.

Liz Herbert