Top management's support is critical for projects to be successful. However, in large organizations spread across the globe, it is easy to lose sight of this factor. CIO3 reports the case of a company that lost 50% of its market capitalization due to top management's failure to implement a global information technology strategy. The failure cost the company approximately $500 million dollars at a time when most established companies were demonstrating strong gains on Wall Street. The company was a market leader in the industrial services business, with offices in almost all developed countries. There were several IT issues that were the cause for a lot of agony and that also affected the bottom line. First, customer queries on order status took several days to respond compared to only a few minutes the competition needed to accomplish the same task. Second, orders from a single customer with locations in different countries were processed by separate systems. This created unnecessary redundancies and made it difficult to provide an integrated statement to the customer. Finally, pricing was extremely complex. Often, a service that was customized was far less profitable than expected.
A globally accessible, up-to-date information system was planned that would replace the legacy systems that were the cause of the company's problems. Despite the development of a detailed plan to address these problems, there was no buy-in from executives in the various divisions across the globe. The lesson learned is one that we emphasize later in the book as well: top management support and buy-in can often be the critical difference between successful IT implementations and the others.