Why IT must go into the business
Monday I had a meeting with a CIO in Arnhem, Tuesday I gave a presentation to a professor in the USA, Wednesday I went through the sales funnel with a partner manager in the UK, Thursday I had a meeting with the program board of a conference in the Nordic region, Friday I reviewed the whole portfolio with a customer in Latin America. Now I am not saying all this to show you what a great jet setting life I have….I did all this from my desk in Bodegraven in Holland. It made me realize has IT has made the World a smaller place.
IT matters a great deal in enabling me as a small local business to be a global player!
I sat in the train on Friday going to a meeting…..sheeesh face to face! Doesn’t this guy use social media ?? (that’s a joke by the way). In the train I counted 8 people sitting in the carriage. ALL 8 were holding a mobile device. Two were students, both ‘Whatsapping’ with a group of other students. They were sending photos back and forth and organizing a party….not a project X party I hope!. One was a woman in her early 50’s with a shopping bag and small child, the small child giving the women instructions and the woman ordering tickets on-line to a show. Two were business men, one with Ipad and one with telephone, both reviewing a report on line and preparing for a meeting. One was a woman obviously sending a series of emails in response to a presentation in her lap. One was a grandmother with her grandson looking at photos from a family party in Australia, whilst the grandson was skyping through another ipad with somebody in Australia talking about the photos…..and I was reading and responding to my emails…using the WiFi provided in the train, and typing all this in.
IT is part of the social fabric and impacts all generations.
I got home and heard frustrated groans from my wife unable to access her meeting minutes on line as she was preparing for a skype meeting. My daughter ran down stairs to show me the latest exam results she had just downloaded and my other daughter at University sent me her latest webinar at the university……..
IT is invading every household.
The business men and business lady were more effective in using travel time, my wife was able to work any-place, any time, my daughters and their respective educational institutions had more timely information and a greater ability to share. I am able to expand and grow my business. The lady and the students were consuming on-line services, the providers of those services had a much larger reach to their customer base……
IT matters a great deal
I tweet fairly often. Sometime in a social gathering tweeting comes up, with mixed emotions and levels of buy-in. Some see it as a waste of time, some see it as a novelty, few I meet see it as a business tool. I explained how I had tweeted and how a CIO had reacted. This led to a customer engagement. We gained 2 new global partners through a tweet and blog link. In a meeting a senior IT manager told me how she gained her new insights and sometimes decided which consultants to invite based upon tweets and blogs.
IT changes the way decisions are made, and influences buying
At a party recently people were complaining about the on-line service of a large retail outlet, saying ‘We will no longer buy at this organization!’ because the on-line payments often hung-up, stock was no longer available (although it is still on the website) and on-line questions were never answered. My wife stopped shopping through an on-line store for making your own photo albums, because the site kept crashing or hanging up, my wife influenced 3 other women at the party NOT to use that store because of this poor IT capability. I wanted to open a new business bank account, I could only apply on-line, they informed me at the local branch! I applied on-line and was informed by an automatically generated email that somebody would contact me……they never did and now I tell everybody not to use this bank. Angry and frustrated users willingly and readily share complaints with other users and can influence the consumption behavior of other consumers. Now it is interesting to note that some of these issues were caused by IT (such as system software glitches or outages), some were caused by the business fulfillment (business not responding to orders or ensuring business information is up-to-date). Both are seen to the consumers as IT failures. The business isn’t always aware of the impact of what they do….or don’t do. Irresponsible business use of IT is also a risk to businesses. Maybe this is another role that IT can fulfill towards the business, make the business more aware? Certainly if IT wants to claim a ‘partner’ position. or realize ‘Business & IT Integration’, or ‘Fusion’ or however we like to call it these days.
Poor IT experience drives away potential customers and can damage business reputation
When I say at social gatherings that I work in IT the atmosphere always, always turns critical….’Groan’, I hear people say ‘How do you communicate with those people’? ‘Where do IT people learn social skills’? ‘Why don’t IT people ever deliver what they say…why don’t IT people tell you what they’re doing,….why do they build things we didn’t ask for….why are we never allowed use features we need…is there some special school IT people go to to learn to be rude or is it a selection criteria….?’, ‘Why don’t they ask us’? One person was happy ‘Our IT organization always solves our issues quickly’, somebody else then said ‘Who created those issues in the first place’?
IT has an image problem with the people it serves
IT is not going away. IT is becoming increasingly important….for everyone. The Customers and the Users of IT departments are not only ‘internal consumers’ within the same organization, but increasingly external consumers who come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes with different needs. IT people no longer support technology!….they must realize they support consumers of services. They MUST realize the impact of IT on the people they serve. They MUST recognize the impact and consequences when IT is not working. I have now played our Apollo IT service management and our Grab@Pizza business and IT alignment simulations with literally 1000’s of IT people and it surprises me how little IT people know about the business they support and enable.
Still three of the Top scoring ABC cards world-wide are ‘IT has too little understanding of business impact and priority’, ‘IT is too internally focused’ and ‘Neither partner makes an effort to understand each other’.
IT still doesn’t get it
Maybe now is a good time to start with Business Relationship Management? On the one side bringing the vital business knowledge and understanding into IT, and on the other side being seen as a trusted advisor to the business. Perhaps time to give all in IT a role in BRM. Embed it into the attitude, behavior and culture.