IT has always been about technology, and it seems, at least on its face, that’s as it should be. But IT is a service arm of a business and to truly understand how the technology fits within the goals of that business, IT might need some more business savvy.
Perhaps that’s why a post in today’s Computerworld suggested that it might be better to hire someone who has a deep understanding of business and some technical knowledge, rather than the other way around.
Earlier in my career I was a technical writer (software manuals, online help, etc). My mentor who got me started once said, “It’s easier to teach a good writer to be technical than it is to teach a technical person to be a good writer.” Using that same logic, it may be easier to teach a business pro how IT operates than it would be to teach a traditional IT pro about business.
Once again, however, if you click through to that Computerworld article, it paints a pretty ugly picture of IT and its relationship to business:
“Patrick Thibodeau recently interviewed organizational psychologist Billie Blair, who described IT managers as viewing “…the world in terms of ‘us against them’ and seeing others in an organization as pests or threats to their IT universe.” Even if you take issue with this, you’ve got to admit that IT staffers don’t always mix well with the outside.”
Whether or not you agree with the notion that you need more business knowledge in your department, it couldn’t hurt to take this description seriously, and maybe step back and look for ways to make your department a bit more friendly to the people you are supposed to be serving.
I’ve been writing a lot lately about running IT more as a business offering a set of services. If you want to be a cost center, you need to think like a business and it’s going to be useful to understand how your business venture fits within the overall business needs of the organization.
In my post yesterday, I wrote about my experience working in publications production in the 80s (before I was a tech writer). Part of that was running an in-house copy center that charged projects for our services. One of the advantages we had over external copy centers was that we were employees, and project managers could make (sometimes outrageous) demands on us and we pretty much had to do it because we were there to service the business.
Whether you want to admit or not, the same goes for you. You are there, not as an independent entity to act as the arbiter of all things technical, but as a part of the business, which just like my copy center back in the 80s, is there to service the business.