Technology leaders are going bigger and bolder trying to unlock the potential of technology. But are we looking in the wrong direction for answers?
Digital transformation. DevOps. Agile IT. IT/business alignment.
Some of the hottest topics in IT service management. All are being debated in great detail in board rooms nationwide, dividing opinion, inspiring ideas and methodologies and generally taking a lot of headspace.
While these topics all have merit and could all help ITSM improve, they all lead IT professionals into a trap. It’s a trap that has been prominent in business IT ever since computers were brought into the workplace.
The trap I refer to is hard to escape from and is responsible for halting the development of corporate IT. The trap is this: trends like the ones listed above distract IT from the fact it must become a business partner which puts a premium on relationships to achieve strategic objectives.
We’ve seen this illustrated most vividly with ITIL. Although ITIL was clearly a useful reference for ITSM professionals, creating a common language and methodology for building and managing IT services, the hype around the framework blew it all out of proportion. The expectation on ITIL become so great that it could never deliver enough to justify the publicity it was receiving. More damaging was that IT professionals spent so long debating the minutiae of ITIL they ignored the more pressing issues of what the business needs IT to deliver.
Why do IT services exist?
Delivering IT services is ultimately about using technology to improve a process or service offered by the business. If IT doesn’t help the business work faster, smarter and more efficiently, or if it doesn’t help the business innovate and sell more products, then it is failing.
By taking a step back and thinking of IT in these terms, you can see that the current IT culture is backwards and inward looking. Think about your own business output. As a ratio, how much time do you spend maintaining the current IT infrastructure, safe-guarding its integrity and controlling costs. Now think about the ratio of effort afforded to make the business work better? If your numbers almost exclusively weighted towards the former, we can draw two conclusions:
a) Don’t worry, you’re in the majority of businesses
b) This is why IT is failing to deliver what the business needs
IT leaders need to go back to the drawing board and realise that big IT projects and initiatives are all too often self-serving and do nothing more than preserve the existing, ineffective IT status quo. They need to shake off the shackles of this entrenched thinking and instead improve how they communicate with the business.
Ultimately, IT leaders must avoid the trap of using the latest buzzword or trend to hide from the fundamental truth: IT needs to become better at communicating with the business and nurturing positive relationships.
For help with improving relationships, download our BRM Beginners Guide here.