(Cross posted at the Arcus Global Blog)
The IT Crowd premiered when I had no TV nor any interest in one, I still have no TV but I do get DVD box-sets every now and again to watch at home. After getting the The It Crowd I was really quite excited but the audience at home simply weren't as in to it so it's still there sitting on a shelf waiting…
The few episodes I watched though brought to the fore of my mind the idea that management hate IT — this was certainly the case in my previous job where I heard that the IT department objected to having to support OSX as the infrastructure they were supporting was generally Microsoft-based. But the manager in question had seen some colleagues at a conference using a shiny new MacBook and had simple had to keep up — but without appreciating that they'd have limited access to the infrastructure that they were used to without the IT department having to invest a significant amount of time and effort.
To an extent the infrastructure encouraged by Arcus is agnostic so such issues would be lessened but the principle remains.
To an extent that isn't really what I'm trying to discuss. Most reasonable managers would listen to the concerns of their IT department and act accordingly, assuming that the IT department made their concerns plain to management rather than adopt a bunker mentality and simple Keep Calm and Carry On. The BCS seem to have an approach where they encourage IT staff to become much more involved in the strategic side of business rather than simply being an amorphous mass where requests are met with utterances which are either arcane in nature or follow along the lines of the teeth-sucking my wife meets when she goes to the garage (why the mechanics don't do the same to me is a mystery, I only learnt to drive a couple of years ago where she's probably been driving for longer than they've been alive).
A recent IT World article highlights this discord with the headline “Why businesses move to the cloud: They hate IT”. Strong stuff ehh?.
A colleague, Louis, discussed this with me last week, and the article in IT World refreshed it in my mind. IT departments need to be ever-so-much more strategically and politically minded, something which isn't overly easy for people who're used to talking to computers rather than people. To an extent I'm lucky: I moved from talking to people to talking to computers — but then again I find computers to be just as outrageously frustrating and mind-blowingly lovely as people.
The figures are frightening though, over two thirds of business managers say they keep funds to one side so that they can provision IT without the input of IT departments. The article goes on to say that if IT departments aren't careful then they run the risk of being left maintaining hardware and legacy systems rather than playing with cool new Cloud stuff. Being left in the dust rather than flying in the clouds (Sorry, it's a Monday morning and the purple prose it just oozing out here).
It's an interesting shift though isn't it? I guess at one point the business decided that having all this IT stuff provisioned internally was just cheaper than relying on some outside agency which they had no control over, now it may well be that that isn't totally the case anymore - the control might not be there but the cost saving certainly seems to be (I'm about to start work on a tool that'll illustrate these savings in a very real way). There was also an interesting paragraph which I can only assume was directed at IT departments:
“If they wait so long researching cloud that their whole end-user constituency drains away from them to external IT providers, however, they lose the chance to maintain security and reliability at levels they prefer and justify their salaries for next year.”
I think we're living in interesting times, I guess your approach to change dictates whether this is a blessing or a curse.