A Killer Disease? IT’s Unhealthy Obsession With Itself

While sitting at a hotel desk at “silly o’clock” this morning preparing for the Forrester I&O Forum in Las Vegas, I saw a Tweet from Ian Aitchison of LANDesk that was an obvious but little realized truth:

“Is the IT industry unique in its obsession with its own possible future demise? The sky is always falling in. #ITRapture”

IMO the average IT organization does appear to be somewhat Chicken Little-like and my response of “I think it is because IT is obsessed with itself :)” started me off …

While we have not necessarily fallen in love with our own reflection, it is difficult to argue that we are not overly obsessed with what WE are doing rather than what the business is doing – as per yesterday’s blog  “Why Is IT Operations Like Pizza Delivery?”

Consider this exaggerated story

You meet two people at a soiree (that’s a posh cocktail party BTW). The first introduces themselves: “Hi, I’m Ian. I work for LANDesk. I do all sorts of product marketing nonsense.” The second does the same. Well, I say the same; there’s a big difference – “Hi, I’m Stephen. I work in IT.”

That’s it. That’s all they say. To me it speaks volumes about how many who work in IT (I deliberately didn’t use the phrase “IT people”) see themselves and their employer. IT is their employer. They know or care little about the fact that they work for a company that makes and sells widgets. When you work in a large organization it is easy to lose sight of your “bigger picture” role. But this is not an excuse.

I bet you are smiling – you know people like this. In fact you might be one of them.

The ITSM doctor’s diagnosis?

It’s a disease. Other business functions have it but IT has one of the worst cases. I can’t help think that it in our genetic makeup – we are very focused on the task at hand and what is immediately in front of us; that’s the IT, the tin and wires.

The cure? >>> The pressure from increasing business expectations if nothing else. Ideally though it would be better to seek “help” ourselves before the business starts to apply its own “medicine.”

The result of our failure to react positively to the business’s “medicine”?  >>> A slow and not particularly pretty demise in the main. For some the end will come far more quickly.

Did somebody say “Drama Queen”?

Yes, I am guilty as charged. But progressive IT organizations ARE getting closer to their customers.

When Glenn O’Donnell and I present on "A Mindset Change Is Needed: Support The People, Not The Technology" tomorrow we will talk about how TNT Express’s IT organization has dramatically increased its ability to meet business needs by getting involved with business operations. It no longer watches the business from afar nor sits preening its feathers aloof in its ivory tower. It knows how good and bad IT impacts the frontline, internal and external customers, and the bottom line.

If you want to hear more, follow the Forrester I&O Forum Twitter stream via the @Forr_IO handle or the #IOF12 hash tag. Not everything that happens in Vegas has to stay in Vegas.

 

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If you enjoyed this, please read my latest blog: http://blogs.forrester.com/stephen_mann  

Comments

Agreed

I've always been amused by the fact that IT is the only sector that specifically and repeatedly needs to cite its alignment with the "business" – not surprisingly, one of the challenges that IT faces is the emergence of shadow IT organizations that actually align with these specific functions!

Hmmm

Not sure whether I should be honoured to be namechecked in a Stephen Mann blog post, or affronted to see that I 'do Product Marketing nonsense'. On reflection - and since Stephen is quite right about this industry affliction - I'll stay honoured.

Seriously, I've been to many IT analyst conferences over the last few years where fear and self doubt is the leading theme. It really is about time IT started to be proud of what IT does, and that is embracing innovation and delivering the life blood of every modern business.

(hmmf, "nonsense" indeed).