INSIGHT: Why NZ business and IT need a common language

In New Zealand, there is always some tension between the IT team and the rest of the business.

In New Zealand, there is always some tension between the IT team and the rest of the business.

So much so that any lack of effective communication results in a feeling that technology isn't serving the business well meaning a journey becomes difficult without shared understanding.

When I was visiting Yangon, I had some problems getting back to my hotel in a taxi - because the driver didn't speak much English and I didn't speak any Burmese.

He didn't know where my hotel was, despite me handing him the hotel business card - which included a small map on the back of it. I think he couldn't read the street names and couldn't figure out where it was because the map was so small.

I had a brainwave and got out Google Maps, thinking I could hand him my phone and he could use that to navigate. Unfortunately he also didn't seem to know how to use the app - and it was in English as well, so it wasn't much help.

Despite me having technology that showed exactly where to go, I couldn't effectively communicate this with the driver. We just didn't have a common language.

Lack of understanding leads to lack of trust

I knew what direction the hotel was, so I pointed and we at least got moving. But communication failed again when I tried to direct the driver as I was in the back seat, speaking a foreign language and using technology he didn't necessarily trust.

The driver did trust locals on the street, however, so he stopped regularly to ask for directions. When we got close to our destination, he finally found someone who knew the name of the hotel and gave reasonably complete directions.

Interestingly, the technology wasn't always right; in the crowded, confusing and changeable streets of Yangon, the driver and the locals between them knew better which roads to avoid and which to take.

Businesses often lack a common language

I think that this is a common scenario in business - the IT team sometimes know where technology could take the business but struggle to get the rest of the business on-board.

Non-technical business stakeholders have different knowledge and experience - and have their own goals and needs specific to their role - prioritised higher than the technology that supports them.

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