A Tale of Two City Websites.


Some projects should never get off the ground. Last year NYC closed down a schools website called ARIS (Achievement Reporting and Innovation System). Parents, by and large, were not logging on to get their kids’ grades and test comments. Amplify, a usually smart education company, was paid $95M over 7 years (development by IBM) to build and maintain this well-intended, but flawed site. In fairness, they stepped in after the project was underway. Someone up front – at the strategy level – should have stopped this project before it started. Once the RFP goes out in instances like this, that’s not likely to happen. Before the RFP goes out — that’s when a business concept need to be vetted. Usually at a price of $1M for a project this size.

Next week a replacement site is launching called NYC Schools. According to the New York Times, the cost was $2M. And note the brand name. If a name needs an acronym, it is probably IBM-friendly not Main Street-friendly. Achievement Reporting and Innovation System? Oy.

Strategy before build. Strategy before investment. Strategy before hiring are all signs of good business acumen. Had Amplify not taken the job in its, then, current state, it would have saved the city time, money and improved educational outcomes. Had it said, “this won’t work” at the beginning, kids in college (or not) would be better off today.

Strategy, be it business or brand, is how smart business works. Invest in it. Peace.