Integrating IT

There is change in the air, and it’s not just spring time allergies.  Clients, prospects, and colleagues are all talking about technology again.  I have a theory about what is going on.

Post Nicholas Karr’s famous diatribe, “Does IT Matter?” (Answer: Not really) executives across the spectrum of company size relegated IT to “plumbing” and isolated it from any core business conversations.  It didn’t help that the majority of technologists historically find the role of “commodity keeper” quite acceptable. Some even welcomed the isolation.   After Karr came utopian dreams of “cloud-everything” to solve all technology problems. Technology wouldn’t be bothersome anymore. It would be all taken care of “out there.”  Unfortunately, and perhaps compounded by the difficult times of recent years, this was used as one more excuse to “forget IT.”

As might be predicted, the pendulum is on its way back.  The impersonal, remote, back-room IT has left everyone wanting.  Not to mention that many have discovered the Cloud is not a panacea, requires its own kind of management, and has security issues.

Most important: The need for personal interaction, personal support, and personal advice is starting to weigh heavier on the day-to-day business practice.  It’s no longer acceptable to reach call-center “Peggy” (remember Peggy?) and get the run-around when you need answers.  IT has never just been plumbing.  It’s about people using technology effectively, getting things done, exploring solutions together.

Why the shift?  What has happened recently?  I believe that people are realizing the difference between “Managing IT” and “IT Management.” To say “it’s just plumbing” does not do justice to the value of IT in a company.  The fact is running water keeps you alive.

IT Management is about marrying technology and your business.  It is about understanding how the constantly changing technology landscape fits with your vision, your goals, your people.  It is about recognizing that IT does matter because it will help you survive, thrive, and out-compete.  In short, it is about engagement between your technology team and your business team.

Technologists need to be aware of these shifting winds and take action.  We need to do more than ask “how can I help you?”  We need to be proactive, get out of the tech-cocoon and integrate technology skills with the business realities companies are facing.  Come up with ideas. Solve the problems that the management team doesn’t even know they have yet.

Technologists cannot afford to squander this moment of transition to be seen as more than plumbers.  Technologists need to rise to the challenge and respond as architects.

In person.




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