Pete Seeger, an American songwriter, wrote a number called, “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” in 1967 that discussed following leaders without question, even when they lead you into peril. Observing how many fine businesses and governments are prioritizing their IT initiatives for 2013, it is hard not to have Big Muddy playing in the background. Forward BIG DATA. Forward MOBILE. It’s less Rebel without a Cause and more a case of Cause without a Rebel. Rebel without a Cause was a 1950’s American film about inter-generational conflict, with teenagers questioning adult authority. Where are those rebels in the business, questioning the wisdom of high-profile IT projects, demanding the business value to be derived from the initiative, to ask why is Project A of #1 priority versus another project.
Socrates, wrote Plato in the Apology, said that you could always kill off the gadfly – that person who was so irritating – yes, they could be silenced. Don’t listen to the questioning of ‘why’ and ‘to what end’ or ‘why now’ or ‘why this and not this?’ But the strategic cost of uprooting or silencing the dissenter or annoying challenger to conventional wisdom will be too high in the long term.
Why mention this now, as IT plans for 2013 are about to launch? Because ‘now’ is always the time to ask this question. We are taking a huge volume of calls around the customer experience from leaders in marketing, sales and customer support. New persona or roles such as the chief customer officer or chief customer experience officer are contending with established roles such as the heads of Information Analytics and Business Analytics and Chief Data Scientist. Is it the speed of decision taking, or the quality of the information gathered, or the elegance of the customer process, or a combination? Who knows? Who is responsible to know and communicate and decide these issues?
Where are your Rebels in the cause of the customer?