My last blog brought out the brickbats from IT professionals who, to a person, said, “Hey, don’t blame us: we’re powerless.” Funny enough, I took that point of view when I wrote the piece the first time. Then I thought of the calumy that would be heaped upon my poor head. Dare I say IT is powerless? That it lacks authority? That it is not tied to business decision makers? Yikes, not me. Yet when the comments started flowing in like a malignant red tide of phytoplankton on a Florida shore, I saw that my original tack was the right one. Of course we were only doing our jobs in identifying the analytical systems, and then deploying them. But the actual business itself isn’t in our hands, and we don’t really have a say. The business leaders are the source of power, and we are their foot soldiers.
I’ve been experiencing that a lot while moving into a new home and area. The simplest act of changing telephone numbers has unleashed a barrage of telemarketers because my 31 days of waiting for the National Do Not Call Registry hasn’t kicked in. I have telemarketers asking me who I am. I am polite and say, “umm, you called me: who am I?” And then they ask, “Do you have an account with AmeriCredit?” To which I ask, “What’s an AmeriCredit?” This plays out for newspaper subscriptions, oil heating, carpentry services, insurance brokers. When you ask them to get me out of their dialer systems they say things like, “I cannot stop it sir, it’s out of my control.” And when I ask suggested an easy fix to a problem on the website at the cable provider, the woman became perplexed and anxious, repeating over and over another time that she was just the service agent for new installations. Not billing, not website, not tech support, not, not, not.
Just when you thought the knowledge worker title really meant something, you realize that most tasks that most workers do are still extremely siloed. Spans of responsibility are narrow. Integrative processes are still a far off dream. Independent decision making and action-taking is still an aspiration, while consumers experience the perspiration.
Here’s to a US Independence Day for the IT managers, customer service reps, tech support experts and everyone else trying there best to serve the enterprise, and serve the customer, only to be stymied by senior management too focused on sweating out profit while the customer walks away or cringes.