You work for the man

22 Nov

Interesting quotes from Gartner on the ZDNet website today that I felt like cheering to the rafters – in short people like me (and maybe you) are in business not IT.

“To remain relevant, IT managers need to wake up and admit they work in business, not IT, Gartner’s leading analysts said in the keynote address at the Gartner Symposium in Sydney.

“None of you are in IT; all of you are in business,” said Andy Kyte, vice president and Gartner fellow.

IT has become invisible to end users and should rather be called “OT” or “operational technology”, according to Kyte. At the same time, the way businesses procure technology is changing, for example software as a service is allowing technology to seep into the business beyond the IT department’s control.

“So where does that leave IT professionals?” Kyte asked. “We need to ask what we do, what to achieve, what is expected of us, and how we are perceived by our peers in business,” he said.

IT managers who fail to ask these questions risk becoming irrelevant to the business. In fact, the vertical market an IT manager works in — government, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, retail — is more important than the person’s department, said Kyte.”

Tragically it reminded me of a meeting I attended a few years ago when I worked at a financial services company.  Essentially a senior manager who was briefing the IT department said “put up your hand if you work in financial services”.  I – and a few others tentatively did.  “Now put up your hand if you work in the IT industry”.  Everyone else raised their hand.  “That’s a big problem”, said the man who paid them ruefully.

And this gets to the nub of one of the issues in the increasing commodisation of technology and IT – essentially you have a whole army of people whose loyalty is to the technology and not to the business.  Things are going to have to change soon, however; as I wrote here the stratification of business types around economic forces will drive us all to admit – finally – that we either do work in IT – and so need to be in an IT company – or we work in financial services – and so IT is just a utility that we are forced to use to achieve our goals.  We increasingly can’t be both, as funding our play habit will become too rich for the majority of organisations being exposed to the increasing chill of global competition. 

So get your ass to the business side of the fence and look for value before it’s too late and try your hardest to get shot of operational management and execution to give you the attention space to prove to your colleagues that you’re really on their side.

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4 Responses to “You work for the man”

  1. Peter Evans-Greenwood October 16, 2010 at 12:54 am #

    IT architects seem to be the poster child for this, which many of them even forgetting that the need to do anything to help the business. Currently I’m giving them ~6 months until business start sacking them.

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