Changing the IT Plumber Image

When I published my post last Friday, Time for Everyone to Respect IT Expertise, I got a comment on Google+ that was telling. Here’s what analyst John Blossom had to say:

“The problem being that media execs don’t consider I.T. execs experts in their business goals. They’re just their plumbers.”

I hadn’t used the exact word, but that describes perfectly not only the way that media companies see IT, but too often how IT is viewed inside many companies in general. And this tied in perfectly to my previous post last week IT Needs a Seat at Business Strategy Table.

IT executives in particular must have a voice in company business policy. IT is in a unique position to explain how technology can help facilitate and meet the goals of the business.  And IT pros in particular have the knowledge to explain the impact of technology on the business as a whole.

Can you imagine if in 1995 an IT pro came to a meeting and told the executive committee that they need to get involved with this thing called the World Wide Web.  Yet IT pros were in a position to do just that, to get the company involved and explain how it could be a new channel for marketing the company and selling your goods to the world.

One comment on the Business Strategy post last week suggested it was useless because it failed to offer any concrete examples of how to get involved.  It was a fair criticism, and while each company is different, one thing is you have to do is stop be obstructionist. What I mean is stop putting up road blocks to new technologies that could help meet business needs.

A good example of this is the use of social media in the enterprise. Before you automatically say no, find out what the business goals are. Marketing and customer service certainly have legitimate reasons to be monitoring social channels for brand mentions and customer interactions and complaints.

Bring ideas to the table that help the business whether it’s cloud computing, social media or mobile tools for the workforce. All of these things are going to help the business in some way. Don’t make the mistake that you always have to be the road block for changes in the organization. Instead be the one who leads the way and finds the best, safest way to move forward while protecting the interests of your organization.

One of the big problems with the big media companies and their associations–theMPAA and RIAA–is that they look at technology as the enemy. If they looked at it as a way to expand the business instead of a way to steal content, they could very likely find creative ways to strengthen the business.

The Internet has been a great business disruptor since the mid-1990s with the development of the commercial Web. As technology changes the way we do business, IT pros can help push the business forward, offering new ways to save money, market the business and communicate with customers–but it’s up to you be a leader instead of a plumber.

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