When I was at IBM, we depended on the IT department choosing our company for all its computer needs. During that time, the IT manager tightly controlled all the technology decisions for the entire enterprise. My job was to convince them that we had the best technology and that “No one ever got fired for choosing IBM!” Targeting the IT manager allowed our business to prosper.
Fast-forward 25 years, when, at a recent client meeting, Brook Miller, chief technology officer at Motivequest, said “Your IT department is dead!” He's right and here's why.
1. The IT department can’t control the technology used by every employee.
The IT department used to be able to dictate what technology would be used inside a business and to communicate with company systems. Now, end users are going to use their Apple products whether the IT manager likes it or not. As Brook states: "As expectations for ease of use are set by the iPhone and iPad, business end-users will increasingly find themselves signing up for external services through their corporate credit cards and relying on their companies IT department for connectivity."
2. The IT department can’t control how the consumer will access the company's electronic resources.
Web? Yes. IVR phone? Yes. Mobile? Yes. Social Media? Yes.
3. The IT department can’t control the employee’s access to social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
Many companies still attempt to control employees’ Web activities during the workday. But if employees can’t find access on their office computer, they will on their tablet or smartphone. Besides, there is important content now being shared on all these sites that company employees can use.
4. The IT department can’t maintain absolute security.
The hackers and phishers are always one step ahead of the IT manager. Corrupting e-mails and websites are everywhere. Remember the “I love you” virus that infected so many corporations back in 2000?
5. The data has escaped the IT managers data center; It's in the clouds!
Desktop software is almost dead. Software-as-a-service such as Google Apps, Amazon Cloud Drive, Apple iCloud and Dropbox are the growing part of the business. ince the employees and customers are all mobile, applications and data are more valuable if they live on the Web. While some of these are now free, most have lower entry costs since they charge monthly by usage.
What is the role of the IT manager now?
1. Solve a business problem and don’t just implement a new technology.
Technology is a simple tool that always changes. It only exists to enable the solving of a business problem. Take a wider company view to be more effective.
2. Embrace social media.
Forget about being a gatekeeper. There is no way to win this battle since the pull of social media is too great on all of your employees. Think instead about how these sites should be used to take the information inside the company and turn every employee into an evangelist.
What suggestions do you have on how IT managers can reinvent themselves?