Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mind the Gap and Business Technology

"MIND THE GAP AND THE ACCIDENTAL TECHNOLOGISTS" is the topic on which Andy Mulholland wrote an interesting note recently, and I so wish if this were a guest post on this blog, if only for the namesake.

Highlighting 'the gap', as he puts it, Andy describes the misalignment of Technology focus with Business needs. The problem is rather recent, cropping up only from 90's, because before that, nobody actually bothered. The flexibility of IT introduced by leaps and bounce of advances of the recent decades is the reason for this widening gap because previously the rigidity of how computer systems worked almost ensured that business accepted what (MIS) system owners dictated.

The business focus had been on niche product development. The roles were fixed within processes, and automation and IT provided the definitive and genuine competitive advantage. The overall stability of this model ensured that investment in monolithic computing systems was made even though payback took time to realise.

Things change with induction of PC's on corporate floors, while data becomes the driving force of information but could not prevent multiple copies, sources, media and overall chaos. In this sense, the sole purpose of an IT department is to ensure that "a single version of truth" exists, and to have a strong control around it.

...the sole purpose of an IT department is to ensure that "a single version of truth" exists, with a strong control...
The world faces a very different business models and technology demand. Also, technological challenges are very different - such as most people have better technology at homes than what is provided at work, and that only adds to the frustration towards IT department. As customer trends shift towards individual willingness to pay more if one gets exactly what one wants, the costly and endless customizations such as BMW Mini actually turn more profitable. Such flexibility can only be attained by models such as Business Network Transformation that combines Web 2.0 and Cloud computing.

The modern era of Collaboration is that of "Business Technology" as against to traditional Information Technology. The information flow via BT of front office of modern era is getting more and more unstructured and loosely controlled, while IT continues to manage the structured core systems of back office. This front office type Collaboration is to minimize waste of time by having a readily available platform for the like-minded folks having particular expertise to find each other, come together and find answers in real time.

BT is decentralization of control, and by which it proposes a fundamental departure of the traditional IT mind. That is where the business managers (of the front office) take technology in their hands, and "accidentally" become technologists.

  • See also:
  • Go here for Mulholland's post on the topic.

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