I just saw Ephraim Schwartz' April 24 column - and it shows that the power of "silver bullet" thinking is alive and well in IT. He's not the one having delusions; he's pointing them out. The silver bullet here is "the one unified IT" thing:
Last week, Accenture signed a seven-year applications outsourcing deal with Unilever to run all of Unilever’s application development, implementation, and support. Unilever believes it can save approximately $700,000 in the first year.
At the same time, Accenture will be migrating all of Unilever over to a single system based on SAP’s offerings. The theory, and it is just a theory at this point, is that IT efficiency -- in this case, moving from a thousand different systems to a single vendor solution -- is a competitive advantage.
Unilever is no small company, so you have to figure that they have a lot of disparate IT systems floating around. Sure, having a unified system might be ideal - in the abstract. The road from here to there is twisty at best though - and will involve all of the typical political infighting as various teams fight to preserve their own business processes, rather than get subsumed by the "one true way" being touted by the consultants and the new system.
If they end up saving any money on this, it will be many, many years in the future - and there will be various levels of collateral damage along the way. The first bit will be the concept of first year savings. They might save that, in raw personnel costs (if the number of IT staffers that the article implies will get fired actually do get fired). The soft costs in that first year are going to be enormous though - rewrites are never simple.