17 Oct 2012

CIT’s Problem 7.2: The Present Evolution of the IT Department

IT is a domain in full evolution. Since a few years, we can observe some on-going tendencies.
·         Outsourcing
·         Cloud computing
·         BYOC (Bring Your Own Computer), BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), BYON (Bring Your Own Network)
·         Shadow IT - End-User Computing (EUC)
·         Agile

Using new products, concepts and services available on the market is fine. However, it is crucial that the company benefits from it. Some companies may, as a need appear, as a difficulty has to be overcome or as a problem must be solved, systematically look to buy or acquire a solution. We may acquire/buy training sessions, consultancy, services, frameworks, standards, frameworks, models, software, tools, technologies, … even without first really investigating and understanding the problem and without trying to solve it ourselves.

Cost saving, dealing with peaks in work load, lacking of some specific competencies, the transfer of risks or a faster availability of the solution are certainly valuable arguments. But the decision to buy may also be a default way of operating or the decision may be driven by some underlying motives. They might be symptoms of underlying problems. Therefore, it is crucial to bring them to the surface. Some possible underlying reasons are:

·         The business community may have lost trust in the IT department.

·         They find that the IT department is delivering to slowly or they impose to rigid conditions and restrictions on security and usage.

·         The business community feels confident enough to take care of their own information needs. Why shouldn’t they take an initiative. They didn’t think about it to discuss the issue with the IT department.

·         They find it important to be more independent of the IT department. A power struggle may be going-on.

·         The IT department wants to avoid having to invent some concepts locally. They may have a belief of not having the skills or have more trust in concepts invented elsewhere. (driven by fear, avoiding risk taking, lacking of skills in problem solving, lack of trust in own people).

Of course, these are not the only possible motives.

The tendencies described above are not without drawbacks for IT department and indirectly for the company.

·         By looking elsewhere for solutions,

    • the IT department may lose valuable competencies (competencies in business informatics, systems analysis, ..)
    • and as the knowledge of the implemented solution decreases and comes into hands of a third party, they may lose control over the implemented IT solutions and about the final cost.

·         Solutions implemented outside the umbrella of the IT department are unknown to this department. They are not supported. The data may and business continuity may be at risk. It may create breaches in the security. And so on. Globally spoken, they lead to unmanageable IT implementation (chaos).

·         A shift of responsibilities from the IT department to the business community occur. It doesn’t need to happen in a formal way. If it happens because an actor starts to take some decisions and makes some demands, the shift occurs implicitly. But when the company has to face IT failures or poor results and high costs, the IT department may still be blamed.

A shift in the role of the IT department will occur. They will have much more to manage external suppliers of IT products and services. They will be held responsible of maintaining solutions chosen, acquired or developed and implemented by others. And in the end, one way or another, they may be held responsible for decisions taken by the business community concerning as well.

All this continuous to undermine the position of the IT department. And, instead of improving the capabilities of the department, it will weaken them.

> Next post will probably concern the role of the IT department that allows to fully exploit its capabilities.

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