What’s wrong with today’s IT?

What's wrong with today's IT?

What's wrong with today's IT?Last week I wrote a long article titled Building Tomorrow’s Organization – without today’s IT? The purpose of that article was to walk through a ‘what if’ scenario centered around designing the organization of tomorrow without a single IT professional.

I’d like to thank those that left feedback for providing exactly what I was looking for…commentary and a thoughtful reaction to what I wrote.

The purpose behind that article was to highlight an extremely important issue facing IT today.   That issue is a simple one to say and a difficult one to ‘fix’.  The issue, to me, can be summed up in one sentence:

Most IT groups have become blinded by process, procedure, technology that they’ve forgotten their main role – make the business run better.

While most IT professionals are smart and try as hard (or harder) than any other employee within an organization, they are also one of the most constrained groups of people found in the modern organization.

Think about all the regulations facing modern organizations.  Nearly every one of those have some form of technology component that places another brick in the wall surrounding the technology and information found within IT.

That’s what’s wrong with IT today…we’ve built walls around ourselves with processes and procedures…and we’ve forgotten that there are people on the other side of that wall. People that need our help. People that want our help.

The Challenge of IT Today

The major challenge that CIO’s and IT groups face today is balancing processes, procedures, security, regulatory requirements and the ever changing world of technology with the need to be flexible, agile and proactively provide innovative approaches to technology for the organization.

This challenge is rarely faced successfully by most IT groups, at least in my experience.  IT professionals have been trained to focus on process and procedure.  On top of that, most IT pro’s are extremely overloaded with a workload that could easily be offloaded to 2 or 3 people.

If we (IT professionals) want to ensure a long and healthy career full of interesting and fulfilling work, we’ve got to find a way to overcome the above challenge…or we’ll find ourselves on the sidelines of tomorrow’s organization.

So…how do we overcome this challenge?

Meeting the challenge – Future-proofing IT

In order to meet the challenge facing IT today, we’ve got to take a long hard look at what we have done, what we are doing and what we’ll need to do in the future.

I’ve got some ideas on future-proofing IT.  I wrote about Future-Proofing the CIO role in the Cutter IT Journal article with my co-author Gene De Libero.  I’ve mentioned a few ideas in previous posts as well. In fact I ended the Building Tomorrow’s Organization – without today’s IT? article with one of these ideas.  I wrote:

Start looking at bringing humanity back to IT.  Focus on your people, their skills and the human side of IT and start focusing on what those people can do for the organization.

Bringing Humanity to IT isn’t the only answer…but it is one that will start to help.  If IT professionals and managers can begin to move the focus away from process and procedure and focus more on the human side of business, things will change.

Now, before you start screaming at me that process is important…I completely agree with you.  But process for process sake is just plain wrong.   Keep pushing your processes and you’ll find Shadow IT will take over the majority of technological initiatives within the organization.

Keep pushing process and you’ll find yourself and your team pushed out of relevance and your role will diminish and your future will become quite bleak.

Rather than process, push people.

16 responses to “What’s wrong with today’s IT?”

  1. jfbauer Avatar

    Eric, good follow-up to your previous post on “Building Tomorrow’s Organization – without today’s IT?” I’m not sure who coined the phrase “process drives communication” but I believe it still applies in your future-proofing IT theme. Having light weight process in order to monitor capacity, execution, and quality is important especially to get a handle on growth. But as you said, having process for the sake of process has completely the opposite effect on timely execution. Striking that balance between focusing on the people and having some light weight process to monitor the overall health of the organization is indeed a challenge.

    1. Eric D. Brown, D.Sc. Avatar

      Thanks John.

      Good processes are necessary…but sometimes we find ourselves in the middle of a bad process and we don’t take the time to figure out how to change that bad process.

      Thanks for stopping by….love your comments and feedback.

      1. jfbauer Avatar

        Bad processes – true, that is where I believe Six Sigma and Lean have methodologies that can assist with using data to verify/validate process efficiencies. Sure, say Six Sigma or Lean to your average IT engineer and they will probably roll their eyes. But from a corporate IT management perspective, I’ve seen the “data” cut through the noise and objectively report on where a process has broken down and empower improvement that the “boots on the ground” had been asking for for quite some time.

        Sometimes it takes an objective third party to cut through the bureaucratic morass and enact the changes the unheard masses have been requesting.

        1. Eric D. Brown, D.Sc. Avatar

          Very true John. Great comment as always.

  2. I feel for IT folks, often between a rock and a hard place. RT @ericdbrown What’s wrong with today’s IT? http://bit.ly/bZ2FWF #cio

  3. Richard Harbridge Avatar

    I do think MOST organizations have IT groups that ADD value to the organization.

    I think the key point your making is that they could add MORE value if they effectively manage themselves and have effective communication in the form of response, feedback, and engagement with the business?

    One point I find really interesting about all of this (IT change debate) is that it’s focused as though IT is a totally different business unit than any other part of the business.

    I think many of these same points are just as relevant for many HR groups, departments and organizations.

    Am I wrong? 🙂

    Looking forward to your thoughts on that point.

    Thank you,
    Richard Harbridge

    1. Eric D. Brown, D.Sc. Avatar

      hey Richard –

      You are correct…IT can add so much more value to the organization if managed more effectively.

      These arguments can be made for any part of the organization…I’m making them for/about IT because that’s where I come from and that’s what I know. I could also argue for/against marketing functions as well since I’ve spent time there – but IT is where my heart is.

  4. What’s wrong with today’s IT? http://j.mp/8XkYEE < good follow on from previous blog post

  5. @carlhaggerty What’s wrong with today’s IT? http://j.mp/8XkYEE definitely worth a read though I disagree with most of his points

  6. Well said!> RT @lisejanody: I feel for IT folks, often b/n a rock & hard place What’s wrong w/ today’s IT? http://bit.ly/bZ2FWF @ericdbrown

  7. Well said!> RT @lisejanody: I feel for IT folks often b/n a rock & hard place @ericdbrown: What’s wrong w/ today’s IT? http://bit.ly/bZ2FWF

  8. @lisejanody @juliebhunt appreciate the RT of my What’s wrong w/ today’s IT? http://bit.ly/bZ2FWF post

  9. […] What’s wrong with today’s IT? by Eric D. Brown […]

  10. What’s wrong w/ today’s IT? http://bit.ly/bZ2FWF by @ericdbrown (via @juliebhunt)

  11. @berkson0 appreciate the RT of What’s wrong w/ today’s IT? http://bit.ly/bZ2FWF

  12. […] said it in many different ways and in many different articles.  After every article, I receive responses from […]