A couple of interesting articles have caught my eye in the last 24 hours: a reflective interview with Nick Carr 10 years after his bombshell HBR article IT doesn’t matter, and a piece on ZDNet capturing the CIO zeitgeist on what’s concerning them today.
My take on Carr’s original article, written on the cusp of the start of the Cloud computing revolution, roughly boiled down to “managing boxes in server rooms preoccupies most IT departments and that isn’t of any real value in the future”. I personally don’t think any of that has changed.
IT as a function is caught between a rock and a hard place: it wants to be seen as a crucial part of a business’ strategic outlook, but is left tending risks, data, compliance. Look at the ZDNet article: how much of the top list is focused on limiting and controlling people from doing things, and how many of the latter list are really strategic? I’m sorry, but if stopping IT being regarded as a commodity is regarded as being a core part of any CIO’s strategy, then they really need to look up the meaning of the word. (OK – so it was the journalist who made those categorizations – but nonetheless…)
Imagine if you were setting up a business today. Where would “set up the IT department” come in your plans? With a completely green field site, my hunch is that today you just wouldn’t do it.
Green fields are a luxury that most organisations don’t have. But are the decades of cumulative IT wisdom and practice now fit for purpose? IT is important to an organisation; so is facilities management; so is legal counsel. Whilst much of what we have built up in as means of management of IT over the years is of great importance in running services, that’s increasingly Business As Usual. Maybe the bit of IT that wants to be strategic should think about where in organisations it should find a new home (if, indeed it hasn’t already)?