Stories by George Tillman

Why we will always have IT - maybe

One hears it all the time. Trade press headlines claim IT has lost its way and is no longer relevant. Some even say that IT doesn't matter anymore. The reason? Users are unsure they are getting what they need from IT. Senior business managers don't understand why IT costs so much. IT's trusted vendors (telecommunications, ERP, BI providers and so on) are successfully going over IT's head and selling directly to senior business management. And everybody is bandying about the two "o" words -- outsourcing and offshoring.
And the CIO? Well, some think that the CIO would be wise to get his or her résumé spiffed up. Is it really this bad? Is IT's obituary being written?
Actually, IT is not as much doomed as it is confused. The fundamental problem is not with IT's current status or even its future, but with its mission. The main problem: IT sells technology, but users buy service. Until IT understands this, it will remain in economic harm's way.
Any business worth its salt knows and understands its core competencies — what it does better for its customers (users) than anyone else. What is IT's core competency? What does IT do that users cannot buy better and/or cheaper elsewhere? Network support? Probably not. Datacentre management? Sorry. Help desk? Afraid not. Deskside support? You're kidding, right? In most every case, some outside organisation can do what IT does better and possibly cheaper. Which raises the awkward question: Why do we need IT?