The headline highlights an old and ongoing argument within IT that assumes that the business is perpetually disappointed by IT and that IT is consistently undervalued in the enterprise.
While the argument is an old one, the basic assumption for more than 30 years as the business and IT needed each other and therefore they would find a way to make it work.
At the WTN Fusion conference in Madison Wisconsin I challenged that assumption and tried to point out that today more than ever the business could in fact divorce IT, throw it out of the enterprise, and live fairly well as a single company constantly seeking technology based services.
It is important to put this argument in context. First, I fully recognize that divorce is a significant, painful and regrettable situation. This discussion does not make light of the pain, complexity and life altering change that comes about in the dissolution of a marriage or another committed relationship.
So lets define what we mean by the business divorcing itself from IT.
A business divorces itself from the IT organization when they provision technology and solutions through delivery models not built around your core IT organization. The IT function is not eliminated in a divorce, but their role is dramatically reduced much like the spouse who gets visitation rights.
Business executives consider a divorce when they find that there are irreconcilable differences based on the gap between expectations and reality are so great that the enterprise no longer needs to have the function as part of its operation.
Historically, executives did not have divorce as an option as the captive IT organization was the only source of technology. This led enterprises to invest in ‘turning around IT’ in order to make up for past under investment or neglect. Please note that the link requires a registration.
Divorce is a recent option for business as for years they were dependent on their captive IT organization to provide enterprise technology. Sure there were other sources of IT services – service bureaus, etc. but they were not a viable alternative for the range of technology services a modern organization had to build.
Business has more choice in provisioning technology than they have every had before either via the cloud, software as a service, public Internet and an expanding market of consumer applications. While you can criticize the viability of these choices today, there can be no doubt that technology providers are investing in creating more choices for businesses gaining access for technology
Why does this matter to CIOs?
Well first the business is open to considering other options beyond the captive IT organization. There is an appetite for an alternative delivery models, particularly when you consider the speed and energy executives took up the IT doesn’t matter arguments a few years ago.
Second many organizations are already separating themselves from IT. Look at the use of services provisioned via the web, consumer technologies and end user developed applications.
Third you may already be signaling to the business that IT is losing interest in them when they outsource critical functions like application development and business facing activities to others.
So how do you avoid divorce?
Simple, if the irreconcilable differences based on gaps between business expectations and what IT delivers. Recognize that IT processes and practices have to change as the business leaders expectations change from managing cost to creating results.
This starts with changing IT management practices from managing activities and proving that you are not wasting the company’s resources to managing for results and driving performance at speed and scale.
Here are some posts about that topic:
May you live long, prosper and happily ever after.
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