Envisioning and shaping the future of work and business.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The gap between the IT department and the users isn't closing

10:39:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
As IT management consultant, I work very much in a place between the IT department and the rest of the business. It is a place where not many people like to hang out, probably because it is where two different universes collide. It is a place where it is often safer to send out consultants than to send out your own people. As consultants, we can act as neutral peace-keeping troops. Or at least we can't be easily recognized as the enemy. To survive in that place, you need to be able to make friends on both sides and at the same time act like you are best friend with only the side you are interacting with. I hang out there because I am thrilled by the challenge to make IT usable to people, to empower people in their daily lives with IT. And this cannot be achieved if you do not get the people who need the tools to communicate and collaborate with the people who make the tools, and vice versa.

During the last few years, I more and more often get the feeling that the gap between the IT department and the users isn't closing - it is in fact growing. When looking through my star-marked posts in Google Reader, I found this post on the High Performance Workplace Gartner blog by Rita Knox. When reading it, I realize that it is really an excellent post which put words to the situation I often see in organizations. So here it is in full:

The emergence and adoption of alternate technologies is hard to ignore. Employees find technology to support their needs (such as desktop search tools, blogs or wikis for collaboration), explore what they can do and teach their colleagues how to use the tools so they'll have a way to work together, but these sorts of technologies are not supported by most businesses' IT organizations.

A technology subculture is evolving. CIOs concentrate on costs, business processes and governance, while employees say, "just do it!" If my kid can carry on discussions, swap homework and post pictures on the Web, then why can't I do comparable things at work? The gulf between the employee's and IT organization's view of corporate computing is growing.

The CIO has the responsibility of keeping the company's computing infrastructure healthy and secure, and keeping back-office operations running, while employees are concerned with figuring out ways to streamline their work processes, make them more interesting and exploit new technologies to help them. Many of these new tools are easier to use than what the company provides - if not actually filling a void the company does not address altogether.

Although some IT departments are beginning to think about these resources and ask us, for example, if folksonomies can be used internally to the corporate advantage, we don't hear the question often, and we hear about deployments of such social technology even less often.

The two views - MIS-centric vs. employee-enabling - need to
converge if a company's IT resources are to be aligned

It is time for organizations to wake up and make "Empower the people" a mantra for every business unit - even the IT Department.


Post a Comment