Most business people are frustrated because IT can’t even understand their issues, let alone solve them.
“IT organizations somehow forget that people come before technology,” says Jonathan Feldman. “Like a raging infection in the corporate body, IT is continually at war.” Feldman, a CIO himself, believes there’s something wrong with any department that seems to have a male dominance. It suggests an elitism, an anti-collaborative stance.
IT has long been tolerated as a costly but necessary line item, but that may be changing. Businesses are under pressure to deliver results and they have little patience for drama. They want IT to get its act together.
Is this possible?
No, says Feldman. “As with a dysfunctional relationship that needs to end before something really bad happens, I have a proposal: End it. It’s not working, folks. It’s super-dysfunctional, and we all know it.”
The good news is that business leaders, increasingly, are figuring out that they can bypass IT and go directly to cloud vendors, who can solve the business problem, deliver ROI, provide top notch support, all while staying invisible in the background.
This model is here to stay. Financial firms who subscribe to Navatar’s cloud for growing their asset management or investment banking business are fully serviced by us. IT often gets bypassed.
All of this is putting more pressure on IT leaders: Innovate or be left behind. Some are responding. However, like any change, it is slow and painful.
In the meantime, business leaders have to continue to wait for IT to change or simply say goodbye to it.
The Navatar View
We see a lot of IT leaders who ‘get it.’ They are more focused on innovation, and less focused on just “keeping the lights on.”
But that may still not be enough – the problem is that innovation just doesn’t happen within an IT bubble. Besides, the only innovation business leaders care about, is one that can dramatically increase their revenues/assets and they don’t see IT helping with that.
Which means the only way CIOs can be relevant is by not being part of IT. They must be part of the business leadership, report to the COO or CFO. “Every business unit should have its own CIO-like manager, if the role were to become narrowly defined to be about the information itself. People who understand the information and whose personal success is tied to it should manage it. The last thing a company needs is a CIO who competes with the various business units over that information,” says Galen Gruman.
As for the IT people at war, they belong with the rest of the company’s operations, not in a parallel technology-based operations group as they do today. Rather than retraining IT people and creating a Cloud Excellence Center that’s simply another tech competency, the CIO must encourage them to understand business issues by moving them closer to business teams.
Once IT folks are forced to be part of business teams where they have no choice but to work collaboratively with non-technical people to achieve common goals, we will stand a much better chance of ending the war – we may even see some IT innovation.