Imagine you are responsible for planning transportation for your firm. One day, your immediate supervisor comes to you and says, “I’m going on a trip, get transportation, please.” You begin to ask logical questions:
Where are you going?”
“Will you be traveling alone?”
“What is the arrival deadline?”
But you get ambiguous answers. Would you know how to book it?
In another scenario, you come across a great deal on a new means of transportation. It is the latest, most environment-friendly, cost-efficient means of transportation available on the market and you believe your firm would benefit from using it. You take your idea to management and begin to extol the features of this newfound transportation, only to have your idea shot down on takeoff without an explanation as to why your idea won’t work.
Both of these scenarios illustrate the silos in most businesses: management in one, IT in another.
- Management knows where it’s taking the firm, when it needs to get there and how much it can afford to spend getting there.
- The Information Technology (IT) team know ways to travel and transport things and the cost involved. Both departments may office in the same complex, but they are worlds apart.
Management speaks the language of “dollars and cents.”
IT speaks the language of “ones and zeroes.”
Often, the result is the relegation of the IT team to a mere cost center within the company, unable to positively impact the progress of the firm; its role is simply to keep the systems online and not spend any money. Don’t even ask about upgrading that Windows 95 workstation!
Does this sound familiar to you? How can we fix it?
Management should clearly communicate to IT:
- the direction of the firm
- how revenue is created
- define the limits of risk associated with information gain or loss.
Likewise, IT should:
- devise solutions in support of management’s directives
- clearly communicate the utility-to-cost benefits, loss mitigation and process improvements these solutions deliver.
Management should guide the IT team as it would its own sales or marketing departments; the IT team should implement products and solutions only if the team can demonstrate the business benefits and how they align with the firm’s overall direction.
One firm, one direction; only then can a company realize the full potential and benefits of Information Technology.
Now that would be a marriage that would positively benefit the bottom line, happily ever after.