Applications development people can't stand the Luddites in the operations group, and ops people hate those prima donas in apps dev - at least that's what we are led to believe. To explore the issue, two of my colleagues who write to the infrastructure and operations (I&O) role - Glenn O'Donnell and Evelyn (Hubbert) Oehrlich - invited me to participate in an experiment of sorts. They arranged a joint session for the I&O Forrester Leadership Board (FLB) meeting, and I was the sole applications guy in the room - a conduit for I&O FLB members to vent their frustration at their apps dev peers. For those who aren't aware, FLBs are communities of like-minded folks in the same role who meet several times a year to network, share their experiences, guide research, and address the issues that affect their role.
We infused the session with equal parts education, calls for joint strategic planning across all IT work, and a bit of stand-up comedy - Glenn noted that as representatives of our respective roles, he and I were actually twin sons of different mothers. I noted that in that context that our parents must have been really ugly. Once we opened the session for discussion, the good folks in the room wasted no time in launching verbal stones my way. Now, I'm no IT neophyte: I've been in the industry since 1982, and I'm no stranger to conflict - I grew up with 3 older brothers, and we all exchanged our fair share of abuse as siblings will. Still, I wasn't quite prepared for the venting that followed. To summarize a few of the main points, I&O sees apps folks as:
We recently embarked on a Forrester-wide research project to benchmark the use of social technologies across enterprise organizations. Why is this important? Well as you may know, we cover social technologies from a wide range of perspectives — from roles in marketing to IT to technology professionals. We find each of these roles differ in their general "social maturity" and that most companies are experiencing pockets of success, but few, if any, are successfully implementing it across the board. In fact, full maturity in this space could take years, but there are clear differences in how some "ahead of the curve" companies are using social technologies for business results.
Infrastructure and operations professionals have not necessarily focused on how they can leverage social technologies but rather how they might have to support (or not support) these technologies. In some enterprises, the Security and Risk group has determined that IT operations must block access to social networking sites such as Facebook.
We have come across a couple of progressive IT operations groups that are thinking about social as part of a larger help desk strategy. How?
That's how one of my client meetings started at last week's IT Forum in Las Vegas. Now, normally this would concern me. It could be a sign that jobs are scarce, unemployment is up, or that Infrastructure & Operations professionals are being let go. But that's certainly not the case. This was actually someone proactively seeking a new job. His company — a large US manufacturing firm — was merging with another firm and he felt it was time to move on.
This led to the first of three interesting observations at last week's Forum. Here are my top three I&O takeaways in no particular order: