Corporate IT Professionals, We Feel Your Pain
In a recent article, Surfing a Digital Wave, or Drowning? The Economist describes the current and potential workload facing IT Departments within organizations of all types and sizes. Their premise is that Corporate IT is feeling pressure from many different parts of the organization to automate more than what they have typically focused on, like back office functions. Other areas, such as sales and marketing are demanding not just more attention from IT, but also sleek new apps that will make their jobs sexier and not just more efficient.
The article paints a picture where CIOs are now more than ever poised to help drive corporate strategy however, in most cases, the rest of the company is not so sure they are up to the task. The result is that IT must strike a balance between giving the users what they want—independence from centralized applications and policies with cool new apps they can utilize and customize—and the historical control over all things digital that they are used to possessing.
I have been in the position to observe many highly functional (and dysfunctional) organizations and what I’ve learned is that it takes a certain combination of empathy and wisdom for the technology team to reach its optimal potential within an organization. It goes without saying that IT needs to treat all the other areas of the company as its “customers” by truly understanding what each department needs to perform their tasks more productively and happily. Yet it’s not enough just to want to please the others. The CIO also needs to include subject matter experts within their own teams that will help them serve their clients more effectively.
For example in order to best serve Finance and Accounting, an individual with the title of Accounting Application Manager, who understands ERP functionality, should be a part of IT. Similarly, a resource that knows sales and marketing should be part of the IT group to best deploy CRM and its multiple features and interfaces to salespeople and marketing professionals. When IT learns to employ people who go beyond infrastructure and software development, they can become much more effective within the greater organization and finally claim their right to help set its overall direction and strategy.