I would like to introduce myself with following observation: I am now working for several years as Competence Manager – and following the development of IT business for many years, I find it interesting to see how constellations of cooperation between business and IT have changed. From being a tool which in the beginning could support only a few processes in a corporation, IT has now become something which everybody have to deal with both corporate wise as well as in private life.
In the first phase of commercial IT operation normal people tended to leave everything that dealt with IT to the IT department. The power of their competence enabled the experts in the IT department to initiate, install and change every task regarding IT. The need for IT was recognized, but one rarely went into detail regarding questions like “What do you do with the interests you pay in the bank?” or “What can be done to boost sales?”. Since the knowledge about IT was limited, top management ‘left the tasks to others’ – and those others were the experts in IT departments. IT ruled everything, solutions had a lack of usability, and functional requirements were not covered the way they should.
In the next phase the relationship between business and IT is considered as a customer-vendor relationship. IT is organized in own departments within most big companies, and they are also billing their ‘customers’ internally for the consulting services and the use of software. As a result large departments of these companies search support external instead of using their own IT department. The reasons for choosing external services:
- They might be cheaper
- The assumption that they offer a better service quality
- The internal billing of IT services are felt to be too expensive, and single departments will look for cheaper alternatives
All in all this is suboptimal as in such cases the total cost of ownership for the corporation is increasing, and the relationship between IT and business is damaged.
What now seems to be the latest trend is a more cooperative relationship in which IT and business cooperate on finding the best solutions by joining efforts. This goes both for evaluation of solutions as well as for in-house development of solutions. Business and IT are working together in teams. The goal is to achieve a better synergy for both IT solutions and employees. Instead of working against each other due to disagreement on an approach, a deeper cooperation between IT and end users will lead to a better utilization of knowledge both from the user perspective as well as from the IT perspective. The creation of a solution is very often an interactive and iterative process which requires an ongoing dialogue between IT and the users to accomplish the best result.
It will therefore be interesting to see how this trend will develop in the time to come. It will definitely be the better approach than seen in the past.
– written by Leif Petter Haagestad, Competence Manager, itelligence AS –