My Business, Your Business, IT's Business

The acceptance of IT as crucial to the business is a problem that’s destined to disappear

The New Year has well and truly kicked off with a bang. It's only early 2007 and the IT industry is already laden with new vistas of grandeur. We now have access to a cornucopia of modern hardware, software and communication technology all trumpeted by the vendors as the great catalyst for business productivity.

So why in this day and age is there still talk of IT banging heads with the business all the way from the data centre to the boardroom?

The problem has more to do with the modernization of businesses and archaic leaders rather than a fundamental communications difficulty between IT and management.

Think about how much enterprise IT development over the past 50 years involved retrofitting computers and software with the aim of replacing manual processes, hence increasing productivity. Compare that with the luxury of using IT as a part of a clean sheet.

No wonder so many projects failed to deliver "value". IT was cumbersome, expensive and inflexible, closely guarded by vendors, and was framed as a cure-all solution to many people who just didn't understand what was broken in the first place. And the answer was to outsource it all to an offshore sweatshop, of course, which is another largely-untested bandwagon that only results in further erosion of the business's sovereignty.

How can IT be possibly expected to deliver value to their enterprise when the people running the business have more knowledge of a vendor's marketing spiel than their own processes?

The disparity between technology and business management may still be a massive contributor to the failure of IT projects, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. It's only a matter of time before today's wrinkly board members are replenished with people who understand that information management is a pillar of the business, not a department.

As technology touches our everyday lives from ever-younger ages, people simply won't make it to management roles, or any other positions of authority, without being cognizant of IT's role as a business enabler.

When that happens, the whole concept of an IT-ignorant board will be nothing more than a legend told to graduate interns.

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