IT has no respect for or understanding of customers and users

Let's have an experiment. View the following cartoon from GamingWorks' ABC, Attitude Behaviour and Culture, and then tell us your response to the statement "IT has no respect for or understanding of customers and users":

ABC 2 of clubs small


Perfect - from Tech Republic

Just had to attach this comment from Tech Republic to the discussion.

Cary King
Minerva Enterprises
Managing Partner

Cute cards - found a new product to sell ...LOL

Seems to me there's a mutual disrespect.

Perhaps some would see this as caused by mutual ignorance, poor communication and poor leadership.

One thing for sure though, IT exists to "sell" services to the business, not the other way around.

Tom Peters writes that every part of the business should be run as a Professional Service Firm. People like N. Dean Meyer have been talking about running IT like a business-within-a-business for a long time. Perhaps it is time IT did so?

I don't know of any business that relies on it's customers to tell them what to do. Only Communist countries have a top-down Governance structure for deciding what and how much will be produced. How did that work out?

Businesses forecast demand, they make plans based upon existing contracts and sales pipelines, they structure themselves as prime contractors and subcontractors to include the things they don't do well. They sell services and products. Not one reason IT can't do the same.

Cary King
Minerva Enterprises
Managing Partner


Great comment, Cary.

I'm fed up with all the "let's align ourselves with the business", let's play nice talk.

There's no such thing as 'aligning IT with the business'. We are service providers, plain and simple.

'Let's align ourselves' so we can run around and be reactive? Please, I think there is a culture of subservient attitudes which supports this milarkey.

Aligning IT with the business

"Aligning IT with the business" is, consistently, one of the top priorities for CIOs (see the annual CIO magazine survey).

I suppose it depends what they really mean by that.

I seems to me a business "aligns" with its customers by understanding their desires (not necessarily needs, by the way, by the time you understand them it's too late), creating products (and service products) that meet those desires, then markets and sells them.

In the recent McKinsey Quarterly, the CIO of NetApp speaks of her biggest challenge is getting people out of the "order taker" mode, how IT leaders must work as equal partners with the business, and about she has senior IT people who act as "account managers."

That would seem to me to be the logical extension of Service Management - providing service. A customer-facing marketing and sales aproach. One of the different lifecycle portfolios that Charles Betz discusses.

This would mean, of course, letting the individual internal customer business units "buy" services throughout the year, letting "market" forces decide. It means IT must shift from captive "you must use" service provision to an organization that purposefully acts as agent to the company to identify services it provides (service portfolio) and get them at the best value - whether produced internally or not (discrete make/buy decisions and aggressive vendor management).

The economics of Virtual Machines, SaaS, and Cloud (or utility) computing are going to force this approach anyway. Amazon, Microsoft, Google, HP, IBM and others are going to drive the cost of computing so low that having your own data center will, within a decade, be an anachronism.

If that is what is meant by "aligning" with the business, I'm all for it. In fact, we strongly advise our clients to do just that.

On the other hand, I just don't see the Central Komittee "governance" approach, with IT producing all the compute power internally, working well.

Cary King
Minerva Enterprises
Managing Partner

IT alignment 150-cite literature review

A gold mine, if you're curious what the academics are up to regarding "IT-business alignment":

Charles T. Betz

Thank you.

Thank you, Charles.

My issue with most currently produced academic research is that they accept the underlying assumption that IT must produce the services internally. Rather like the Ford River Rouge Plant in 1930 where everything was produced in an internal plant. Now, more than 90% of the Ford F-150 (the product produced at River Rouge) is produced elsewhere.

The economics of IT have changed, just as things have changed in manufacturing. With the Cloud, we'll are increasing producing - LEGO-like - IT from resouces outside the firm.

Your Asset Management lifecycle - with Purchasing, Vendor Management, and Financials included - will, increasingly, be the vendor management organization providing a contract service to Service Management. The service products will be analyzed and marketed by the Service Management lifecycle. The service products will be designed, assembled, and monitored, for Service Management - discretely including outside "parts" - by operations.

IT must soon accept its stewardship role as agent to the corporation for acquisition and management of these systems - not primary producer. Else, business will bypass IT, despite their lack of specialized systems management knowledge.

The current IT Governance and budgeting cycle is not working well for most firms. IT Governance and budgeting from the top down, without an understanding of the needs of systems, and the resultant boom/bust spending, has severely damaged the long-term functionality of many firm's computing. Without knowledgeable agents, the amplitude of these boom/bust cycles is likely to increase, and the damage get far worse.

Cary King, Ph.D., J.D.
Minerva Enterprises
Managing Partner

IT Skeptic affiliates

Just for the record: I don't make money on the ABC cards. Gamesworks and Van Haren are not affiliates - no cut for me :-D

The only current revenue making parts of this site (I've tried others in the past) are Amazon, Cafepress and of course Google Adsense... and soon my book.

Nobody thought you did, I hope

Everybody lives by selling something.

We're all glad, I'm sure, that Paul Wilkinson and Jan Schilt have found a way to make money with pointed humor about one of IT's pernicious attitudes.

Cary King
Minerva Enterprises
Managing Partner

Hi, Is this post the devils


Is this post the devils post


As a skeptic

As a skeptic I have to say that the number has no signifigance. But we thought it amusing, yes.

The Integration Card has already been Played

As an 'IT' person, I'm getting tired of beating myself up. While often we deserve what we get, we are certainly not alone. I know of some (many perhaps) organizations where the 'business' is getting a free ride and IT is simply a whipping boy whose values are much more customer oriented than their business counterparts.

What about 'the business'? Do they have a lane on the ITSM highway? Is that because they were not invited or because they would rather take a plane? Are they focused on their Customer or are they taking an inward (systems) view of the world?

"The business" keeps asking for 'more with less'....are they stepping up to their end of the governance challenge? In many cases I think not. That means having to face up to some very difficult choices; choices 'the business' must make but may not unless they are forced to do so.

The fact is, there IS no 'business' and no 'IT'. You can argue 'alignment' and 'integration' all day long and it won't matter because that card has already been played. For many industry segments, technology has become so embedded in 'the business' if people are having this discussion then they are playing a losing hand.

John M. Worthington
MyServiceMonitor, LLC

Needs Clarifying


So are we voting on:

  • Whether we use the terms listed?
  • Whether the bloke in the tie is correct?
  • Whether there is no respect for or understanding of customers and users?

It's all how you read the card, eh?


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