Archive for the ‘Partnership’ Category

11th

IT professionals typically choose to enter the profession because they enjoy technology.  They like to solve problems through careful analysis.  They pay great attention to details.  They are tough-minded in that they want to keep digging until the problem is resolved to their satisfaction.  They enjoy bringing order out of chaos but then again, they become easily bored by processes they see as repetitive and mundane.   They love to tinker and change things to make them better.  They are fascinated by the challenge of learning something new.

Learning the business hasn’t been a high priority

Many in IT pride themselves on their technical skills rather than their business proficiency.  They see themselves as IT jumping hurdlesprofessionals rather than bankers, manufacturers, or retailers (see “What Business Are You In?”)  They reason that they can easily take their skills to another industry using similar technology.  As such, these professionals are much more invested in learning and understanding technology rather than the business of the company currently cutting their paycheck.  This in itself is a major cause of the knowledge/communication gap between IT and the rest of the business.  It’s not that IT people are incapable of learning about the business; it just isn’t a high enough priority when compared to everything else.  It isn’t that they enjoy speaking in a tongue foreign to others and honestly, they don’t always realize that is what is happening.  It’s simply the way they think, and they have not made the effort to learn how to translate those thoughts into a common language.  Relate it to someone who wants to learn English as a second language.  It takes time and effort to learn to do so, and it doesn’t happen without motivation, commitment and dedication.

Lack of business understanding hurts your career, your IT department, & your company

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20th

Too often it seems that almost the singular focus of IT has been to cut costs within the company.  There is no doubt about technology’s capability to bring organizational efficiency and reduce costs; however, when cost-cutting is the primary focal point, it can mean little attention being given to the ability of technology to help increase revenue, improve customer retention, enhance competitive differentiation, etc. ??????????????????????????????????????

What caused IT departments to become so narrowly focused on cost-cutting?  Obviously years of economic uncertainties and difficulties had a huge effect.  But perhaps factors internal to the company played an even larger role.

Instead of seeing themselves as business professionals with an expertise in technology, many IT professionals instead view themselves as technologists.  As a result, they have not concentrated on truly learning the business of the company actually cutting their paycheck.  After all, the reasoning seems to be, why should I see myself as a banker or a manufacturer when my technical capabilities will easily allow me to move to another industry the next time I need a job.  Failure to gain a knowledge of the business makes it easy to see why these IT professionals do not speak the language of business… they don’t know it.  We all know the difficulties this causes in communication, but we must also admit that this lack of business knowledge prevents IT professionals from contributing as much to the success of the company.  It also makes it extremely difficult for IT to communicate the value they are bringing and likely prevents them from even being aware of what they might be doing to enhance competitive advantage or increase revenue.  Without exhibiting a firm grasp of the business, IT is often pushed into an order-taker role.  And it doesn’t help that the natural introvert tendencies of many IT professionals (including the CIO) are sometimes allowed to become barriers to developing solid relationships with corporate leaders within other areas.

I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy. I’m telling you it will be worth it.

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21st

In 1986 BusinessWeek Magazine ran a story entitled “Management’s Newest Star:  Meet the Chief Information Officer”.  Corporate IT had arrived!  No longer would we be locked in dark basements doing our work in relative obscurity.  The business community recognized the importance of IT and the need to use technology as a strategic resource to drive the company to new heights.  From the basement to the penthouse!

There are few companies today that do not run on a technology foundation.  In fact, Gartner declares “Every budget is an IT budget.  Every company is an IT What happenedcompany.”  Technology is empowering customers and driving companies toward new processes, products, services, and even business models.  It is disrupting entire industries and causing changes in societal behavior.  It seems obvious that the pace and impact of technological change are accelerating.  In fact, 86% of CEOs say that technological advances will transform their business by 2019.

Back in 1986, the future looked very bright for the CIO and the corporate IT department.  Today we seem to be at the beginning of a virtual technological tsunami driving momentous change.  This should be a glorious age for the CIO and corporate IT! 

Yet the calls for IT transformation are growing stronger and more frequent.  We see predictions that the CMO will soon be spending more on technology than the CIO.  We witness an increase in shadow IT and technology spending outside the IT budget.  We see new C-suite roles emerging – such as the Chief Digital Officer, the Chief Data Officer, and the Chief Innovation Officer.  And these new roles are taking on duties that previously had been considered the domain of the Chief Information Officer!  There is a growing recognition that the traditional role played by the CIO and corporate IT is insufficient for the brave new world ahead.

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28th

Too often IT professionals are almost viewed as outsiders by others in the company.  Oh sure, everyone knows that you are on the same payroll, but there’s just something…well, different.Outsiders

Perhaps it is because IT is often behind closed doors.  Or it could be that they view IT as simply a service that could be purchased rather than as a true partner motivated to help drive the business forward.  The issue could possibly be that some of the IT processes make it difficult for others to do business with us.  Perhaps they are picking up on the vibe that many see themselves as IT professionals rather than as bankers, manufacturers, retailers or distributors (see “What Business Are You In?”).

If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself. – Henry Ford

The silo mentality needs to be eliminated.  Business is difficult enough, and competition is fierce.  Your company needs everyone on the same team moving forward together.

But let’s face it.  Even if IT suddenly announced that they were changing jerseys so that they could play on the same team as the rest of the company, that doesn’t mean they would be readily accepted.  Others may not be used to looking at you that way.  They could have preconceived notions about what IT can and should be.  There could be years of history to overcome.  Mindsets need to change both within and outside IT.  And actions need to follow words.

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17th

Corporate boards are more concerned than ever about technology and its effects on the company.

They hear the horror stories of millions of dollars sunk into technology projects that fail to meet their goals.  They see how one dissatisfied customer can use technology-enabled social media to ignite public outrage against a company. boardroom

They read about website failures during critical times and understand the potential for both short-term and long-term consequences.  They may have even themselves endured fallout from a computer virus.  They see the adverse effect a cyber-attack can have on a company in terms of bad press, lost revenue, legal woes, and erosion of customer trust.  They hear of companies failing because of inadequate preparation for continuation when a disaster occurred.

They fear rival companies gaining a competitive advantage through some technological investment.  They see whole industries disrupted as a result of new technologies.  They know of companies no longer in existence because they failed to react to technological changes.

And they see – and feel – that the pace of technological change and its effect on business is rapidly increasing.

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