Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The In-Between

 I feel pretty conflicted about IT these days. Much of my time and effort is spent trying to eliminate IT (at least in the busywork sense). This is a pretty noble goal in my opinion and the natural technological progression. As +Chris Dancy has pointed out: The robots are coming. Technical folks have been replacing mundane tasks with small scripts for ages. A lot of IT needs the same treatment.

Now here's the conflict: We can't automate all of IT. The technical folks are important and fill a vital role in an organization. If nothing else, many times they're a gatekeeper to the company's coffers when software salespeople come a-knocking.

So where does that leave me?

Good question. I don't know. I believe we need to get rid of the IT department. The purely technical cloistered environment is going away. It has to. Its self-serving, isolated, expensive, and often blind.

In my mind I see a more distributed technical team embedded within the various business units of the organization. That team works along side the people doing the work of the business, they might even have non-IT duties. The usefulness of pure IT is diminishing and the value of technical prowess will be in be in the way it can transform the way people work.

I have a great appreciation for helpdesk, systems, network, operations, all the back of house IT. I have filled all those roles simultaneously for nearly a decade now. It is Tech for Tech's sake and it will need to end for us to bring about the next era. Its time to do away with IT monks.

But while we retool, its time to reprogram a LOT of users.


  1. LOVE this post. You have perfectly captured the problem that we see at a lot of IT shops of all sizes. %80 of my budget is for firefighting, ops, and keeping the lights on. Which leaves less than %20 for innovation projects, growing, improving, speeding etc...

    I can't wait to talk about this in person!

  2. Its also a sensitive topic for a lot of IT types. For once IT is worried about the technology taking away THEIR jobs. A little ironic, no?

    Agreed, this is going to be a great convo!

  3. is that it? is that what you think IT do? "Purely technical"?

    IT are the custodians of the organisation's investment in information and in the systems to extract value from that information. we are there to protect and serve: to protect the existing investment and to serve by facilitating more value out of it.

    That means IT is there to advise on policy, advise on the future, translate corporate strategy and needs into it's IT implications, design the IT aspects of services, aggregate internal and external suppliers into a service, ensure efficient and effective architectures are followed, manage the financials, report and reduce the risks, measure and improve performance against agreed service levels (nobody else will across the whole service), support the users, and so on. You can't significantly automate any of that.

    The tech part of IT is only one aspect. it's about the only bit with potential for significant automation. The people we can afford to shed, the ones who will be outsourced and automated, are the ones who can't see beyond that aspect of IT.

  4. I totally agree with you on the role of IT Rob. My experience is that organizations want to be rid of IT because they view it (wrongly) as a money pit. The real value of IT is everything you just said. So how does an organization get that vaue without IT? Many people believe (again, wrongly) that cloud and manages services are the answer. I'm searching for a vision that allows us to move away from the appearance of being server cowboys/mechanics to solution/vision/performance providers.

    Most of this isn't happening just because i want it to. Its being forced on me and a lot of my backoffice peers by the executive suite. We need to be proactive in defining our roles because the c-class wants to pay cloud subscriptions and MSP contracts not salaries.