Interesting observation published by Forbes: “CIOs And Cloud Computing: How IT Can Get Back In The Driver’s Seat“. While the article appears to apply to management of infrastructure in the world of cloud computing, it is symptomatic of a larger trend.
We have heard of the looming demise of IT for some time now. It started with outsourcing and globalization and intensified with the advent of cloud computing. The trend of “lost love” between Business and IT and illustrated in this article is not uncommon. I think it stems from factors like these:
- Business sees IT as an inhibitor rather than enabler of achieving business goals faster. The technical debt accumulated over the years starts to demand the interest payments. Delivery takes longer because complexity was not dealt with on ongoing basis. Desperate IT departments try to please the Business and they cut corners, leading to more technical debt. The vicious circle continues.
- Business sees IT as cost, which ever increases without generating more value. It’s like dealing with a cable TV company. The bill gets bigger every six months but the programming remains the same or gets worse.
- Business believes they can do IT themselves. Why wouldn’t they? Anyone can build a web site (okay, okay, maybe with the exception of the US government), anyone can buy cloud storage, anyone can write an app or commission writing one for pennies… Of course it is not that simple, but many on the Business side believe it is and droves of cloud service providers do their best to reinforce that belief.
Having IT relinquish some of its Implementation role in favor of the Advisory role is a good advice. Easier said than done though. It’s like with human relationships. After the love is gone it’s hard to get the flame going again. Is Business predisposed to seek advice from its IT Department, especially when there are so many advisers out there, who are eager to say “yes” to every request? Let’s hope so… This is where the Enterprise Architecture (EA) can lead. Stop talking to Business about interfaces, gigabits, servers, and tools. Instead, start talking about total cost of ownership, speed to market, competitive advantage, quality etc. In other words, speak the language of Business, not the language of IT. But more importantly, don’t just speak that language but start thinking that way too. Business really doesn’t care how IT is done anymore. They want us geeks to figure it out and not to bother them. For us however, it is a matter of survival. In order to serve Business better we must understand what it wants, or… fade into oblivion. We can only understand it if we think like business people.
So yes, again, it is all about the business. Adapt or prepare for extinction!