I work in the information technology division of a very large organization. My job is to help react to business objectives by providing guidance and direction for technology that enables the business.
And therein lies a crucial problem. I work for information technology not for the business. It is not that IT is such a bad place, well actually it could be better, but it is often treated as a second class citizen at best and a service provider at worse. Technology impacts us all in subtle and macro ways. Treating technology and technology savvy workers as nothing more than information janitors will inevitably result in technology fragmentation, business dissatisfaction and decreased productivity.
Information Technologist and the tools they ply need to be elevated to first class business partners who apply specialist knowledge to modern day business challenges. Any other relationship that moves the scale of equality up or down for the IT department will inevitably lead to calamitous results.
In a modern egalitarian society having information technologist at the business tables seems a fair and reasonable approach to achieving business objectives. However often is the case where that table is divided and each specialist (be it business or technologist) view the other as an adversary that is neither to be trusted nor valued.
I’ve sat in many a meeting with fellow technologist bemoaning the wisdom of business choices. I’ve heard many a business person complain about the lack of agility and flexibility of the technology department to meet even the simplest of demands. I’ve even witnessed IT civil wars where one IT group blames the other for failing to meet business demands.
The IT civil war is perhaps the worst possible battle a company could wage. Business leadership should step in and end IT battles before they escalate into full civil war. IT civil wars denigrate the technologist to even lower echelons of the corporate ladder. It stupefies once brilliant knowledge workers and weakens the resolve of IT strategist. The technologist becomes consumed with survival and relegates business continuity and growth to secondary concerns.
Civil wars are often masked by clever labels such as reorganizations, efficiency improvement and budget reduction. If your CIO is managing day to day IT affairs and rearranging deck chairs then your enterprise is most likely in IT civil war.
The only viable exit to an IT civil war is execution of the CIO and his chief lieutenants. The Chief and his staff are culpable for the war and must be held accountable for their mismanagement. The enterprise should not rely on removing the CIO in hopes of ending the war. Nothing short of clear and decisive elimination of the general staff is in order to ensure a quick end to hostilities. A new chief must be brought in to heal wounds and organize around a new banner of hope in order for the business to get back on track.
Working for a large enterprise I often wonder about the current state of IT. I’m not going to schill for corporation and say management has things well in hand. I don’t even know if they know what each hand is doing. I do know that I will continue to point out positive opportunities that we as an enterprise can achieve and try to stay far from the rockets’ red glare and the bombs bursting in the air should they be about. I’ll not be a party to civil war.