Everywhere I look, including on this blog, people are telling each other what they need to do to be successful. “Use this process,” “create this type of strategy,” “apply this tool,” etc., the constant drum roll of recommendations can leave you numb and confused. Numb to the extent that the sheer volume of advice pummels us into submission. Confused as even a quick review shows a plethora of contradictory ideas.
Lets change that.
Each Friday in December, I will be posting a fundamental question about IT’s future for your consideration, reflection, comment and discussion. The idea is to start a debate that goes beyond simply updating or adjusting IT to go back to its roots. The goal is to get a sense of where we need to go by thinking about where we are now and how we got here. This type of reflective reciprocity should lay the foundation for a positive and action oriented discussion. Here are the proposed questions for December.
- December 7th: Is the IT organization, as we currently know it, worth saving?
- December 14Th: What are the reasons we need IT in the future?
- December 21st: What are the issues that need to be addressed in creating the future?
- December 28th: Where do we, as technology professionals, need to go to realize our future?
These are candidate questions, if they need to change please comment and we can adjust them.
The reason to start a debate this holiday season
With everyone ‘listening with their mouth’, as Ken McGee told me, we are losing the context behind all of this advice and the attention we give to it. There is a quantity of answers with varying degrees of quality. But, there are too few real questions.
We need to ask tough questions about IT. By IT I mean the IT organization, its role, responsibility, strategic contribution, structure, etc. not technology. We definitely need technology, but technology is greater than IT, so we need to consider the IT as separate from technology.
Why ask these questions? Well as I reflect on IT at an existentialist level one thing is increasingly clear.
IT as we know it is in real trouble.
Now that is a bold statement that normally leads to even more rhetoric and recommendations regarding what we should do to save IT, prove its business value, etc. But consider that globally IT budgets have been essentially flat, a decade of devaluation, CIOs consistently point out that they cannot get the right skills in IT, and finally that future pool of work related to IT’s traditional strategic strength – process automation and integration is drying up. While new digital technologies brighten the outlook, many companies are going digital with limited IT leadership and involvement. I doubt our future relevance rests in simply strengthening the past.
If you step back and look at the fundamentals you can make a case that IT is in deep and even existentialist trouble. Trouble not at the individual firm level, there will always be leaders and late followers, but trouble to the extent that incremental change; adjustment and improvement may not be able to address IT’s strategic, organizational and operational relevance in the future.
I am sure you feel it when you wonder about the future of IT, your career, job prospects and future. Things are not as secure, our understanding not as deep, our rational not as relevant as they once were.
While IT professionals have always labored in an environment of innovation, change and operational pressures, this environment feels different. There has never been more choice in how companies acquire and use technology and the modern IT organization was founded under the assumption that it had an organizational monopoly on technology in the enterprise.
It is time to question that an every other assumption we have for IT by asking questions rather than asserting advice. The first question will be posted on this Friday. Let the discussion begin.
Are these the right questions? Welcome your thoughts and adjustments.