I am a technology guy. I have been one for some 25 years now. Like many of my colleagues, we like to think we are also business people. We have gone back to school and been awarded after a few years of hard work are MBAs. Then we won promotions from manager, to director to VP and CIO.
Bam, we made it. We have all the technology knowledge and business know how too. So, what is the problem.
Ah, that is still very simple. We are not a sales unit, nor a product unit and no matter how much we try we are not a service unit for profit. We are Finance and HR, but not that lucky.
You see, Finance, well they have been around since mankind started trading with each other. Someone had to track the values of the trades. The origins of language can be traced to accounting for cattle. But, no one – I mean no one would think that Finance should provide a competitive advantage (they can), just no one really considers it.
Now with HR, again this can be traced back to early mankind. At that time it was called human trading or the house man who managed the staff, hired replacements, fired them (a lot kinder now than it was than) and trained them. They do not generate sales or profit, they provide the resources. No one considers them a competitive advantage (though they can be).
So, are brother departments have been around 1,000 of years. IT is not just the new guy on the block, we are the infants. We are a corporate overhead with expectations that we deliver top and bottom line results from our innovation and execution. But, also a utility to keep the data flowing, like power flowing. Unlike our brother areas we must cover both sides of the spectrum with the same people, processes and technology.
It will be an ongoing struggle, challenge and the search for both the business to understand and us IT brethren to learn how to manage that balance and thrive. Being in this lot, we will continue to say they don’t understand.
Those folks in Sales have it easy, all they have to do is sell. Not true, we know in our mind as if we had to walk in their shoes and them in ours, we would quickly learn it is not simple on either side.
So, what is the answer to making ‘they’ understand. It comes down to what all of us overhead functions have to delivery whether it be finance, HR or IT. We must continue to provide options.
The difference is that for HR and finance, for the most part (outside of when we hire/fire people or budget season) we gladly let HR and finance do their jobs and perform not to get too involved. After all, you rarely hire/fire people in your personal life. Perhaps that plumber gets out of line and you need to get a new one or you decide to switch banks every 10 years because the old one was taken over by one you don’t like. But, for most people they have limited HR/finance activities in their business life and in their personal life.
Yet, technology, well that pervades our business and very heavily our personal life.
You have the mobile phone you need to change every year or two and learn how to use it.
The new laptop – going from PC to Mac and back or not.
The wi-fi you have at your house now (please make sure you change the default password).
The new home media center that can download from Netflix and stream YouTube life.
Now add to this the business aspect of cloud based applications being sold directly to the business, bypassing those annoying IT folks who worry about governance.
So, why don’t they understand?
Because, they understand just enough to be dangerous. Not really dangerous, but they understand enough to talk the buzz words, but not enough to understand governance.
It is therefore not so much, why they don’t understand, but what they don’t understand.
Governance is what they don’t understand and the more we as IT people realize that it is a job number one to get them to understand governance, the more they will understand.
Governance – a pain, both difficult to explain and therefore to understand. More than worth it.