Time for a new attitude in IT

Yesterday I attended a panel discussion in Boston all about social media technologies. I learned a lot – including the decidedly negative perception of IT from most in attendance.

The audience seemed to be made up of marketing, PR, and business people. They are progressive thinkers, trying to unlock the secrets of leveraging the latest technology to drive business value. Well, at least as far as IT will let them.

Though the talk of IT went on only briefly, it was clear that for many organizations IT is the gatekeeper of what you can and cannot do. Citing security (mostly) or other reasons, IT seemed to be viewed as impeding rather than enabling progress for many. People shared anecdotes about how they’d love to run Google Analytics on their websites, but IT won’t let them. Or how they had to petition IT to upgrade to IE7 so they could use some modern social media tools (clearly *not* a security issue).

Time to get on board as a willing partner, IT (see Elliot Ross’ post Not Willing or Not Able? Which is it?). Expand the Yes/No vocabulary. Work to make things happen rather than preventing things from happening.

The Dilbert character Mordac the Preventer of Information Services is funny because it rings true (in too many cases). Let’s change the attitude, and change the perception. Just as IT shouldn’t adopt such a tech centric view as to adopt technology for technology’s sake, IT shouldn’t get in the way of new technology adoption just because it comes in from another department.

And senior executives, you’re not off the hook either. You can’t leave so many important business decisions in the hands of IT, under the guise of security, compatibility, whatever. In most cases, there are options. There are almost always alternatives, different approaches, or more nuanced trade-offs to consider. Get in the conversation rather than leaving it up to IT.

Let’s change the ending to this timeless tale where (quite ironically) IT is hostile to the adoption of new technology. If it isn’t clear enough that the time to change is now, just take a peek at the consumerization of IT. The writing is on the wall.

Photo credit: Christine

  • Tom, great to see you take the time to write this post. IT needs to manage standards and security, but it also needs to create “Channels to Innovation”. These channels can be internal to IT (R&D) and partnerships with the business partners on projects such as social media.
    Also, IT is not alone it being viewed (by some) as a impediment to innovation. Others point to Compliance and simple fiefdoms.
    I don’t mean to hawk my own blog in your space, but I wrote a post that starts a conversation about what IT and Marketing can do together to build stronger bonds here: http://www.refford.com/2010/11/bonus-post-what-can-it-market-do-today/
    Nice to meet you IRL yesterday!

  • Tom Catalini

    Thanks for stopping by, John. I don’t mind you sharing that link at all – it’s relevant!

    And yes, IT certainly isn’t the only impediment. I guess I just can’t get over the irony that IT can be so inflexible sometimes when there is a business need to adjust to new technology.

    A new model for IT that seems to make sense (at least in larger organizations) is to break it out into different functional areas with different charters, teams, and approaches. McKinsey describes two teams within IT – one highly standardized and structured, the other nimble, flexible and embedded in the business units. Their report is worth a read.

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