Last week, I presented at the itSMF UK’s annual conference on the subject of value or, more specifically, I hid an awful lot of IT financial management-related content behind the title: “Anybody Questioning Your Value?” Importantly, this is not IT value; I am referring to business value.
It was a surprising session in many ways. Firstly, the number of attendees (I didn’t count them but I would guestimate about 80 ... I’m sure my IT service management peers in attendance will now quickly tell me it was a lot, lot less). Secondly, that they all seemed to stay to the end (well bar one worried-looking lady who left in a rush early on ... I assumed a Sev1 incident or an upset tummy, or both).
The third surprise was the response to a simple question I posed:
If your CEO or CFO stopped you in the corridor and asked, “I like the look of this Gmail-for-business thingy, how does it compare cost-wise with our internal email service?” Would you know the per-unit cost of delivering your corporate email service?
The surprise? Not one person in the room admitted to knowing what their corporate email service costs. I expected to see a low number of raised hands but not a wave-less sea of hands-in-laps. Unfortunately, being unable to answer such off-the-cuff and more formal questions around costs and value can only expose the absence of I&O’s business savvy and lack of cost-awareness. This is not a place I&O wants to be in right now (or ever).
When will our IT Support people learn (or be taught)? Listening to a family member talk about the issues they’re having with their corporate laptop and how IT Support has responded has made me both angry and embarrassed to be associated with the IT Support community.
Sorry for the potentially gross generalization, I do know that there are a great number of excellent IT Support people out there who bend over backwards to help their internal customers; with “customers” the key word here. However, like many other internal functions, IT Support can forget that they are dealing with internal customers or the internal consumers of IT services (OK, they can only forget if they knew it in the first place). They forget that it is not about the IT, that it has to be about the people and the business.
So what happened?
It started with a virus (where was the corporate antivirus when it was needed?). The IT Support first contact response was “Bring it into the office tomorrow. You will be in breach of contract if you don’t.” Say what? Is that how we treat our “customers”?
Anyway, two days later the laptop is handed back with an older version of IE and no shortcuts to anything other than Office. “There was no time to do more” the IT Support response. The “customer” response: “I'm giving up on my work laptop and using my own” and I&O continues to encourage its own downfall.