I’ve listened to a lot of hot air about the notion that IT needs to adopt more of a business mindset and move away from its longstanding technology orientation. We seem to hear an idea that  sounds good, and it becomes a zero sum game – we adopt the idea whole hog. It’s all or nothing.

That’s nonsense, of course. Enterprises are crawling with MBAs who have plenty of business mindset. What IT uniquely brings to that discussion is how to apply technology to the business. IT relinquishing its position as the major source of technology expertise is like finance moving away from profit forecasts. You think the cloud is making technology simpler? The cloud is simply another avenue that requires technical, legal, security and business chops.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying the upper reaches of IT management could not do a better job of understanding the particular needs of business. But IT’s role is to execute the application of technology to help reach those goals. 

What’s left for IT if it relinquishes its role as enterprise technologist? Has development, project management, security, governance, contracts, outsourcing and whatever else I am surely missing become trivial? How are experts in these areas not supporting the collective goals and strategies of the enterprise?

And if not experts in technology, what is IT exactly?

Let’s look at the doomsday scenario: IT does not adopt a stronger mindset business and vanishes. Who picks up the pieces? The CFO and the finance organization? A few engineers who happen to like technology? Who writes the technical particulars into the outsourcing and cloud contracts? Who specifices services and end user devices and makes them secure? And surely, there will still be a few data centers to run (I guess the smart ITer should hook on with a cloud services company).

There’s a good discussion about this topic at the CIO Network on LinkedIn, but let’s start one here. Suffice it to say, most of the participants there have jumped on the business mindset bandwgon, but there’s a few who might side somewhat with my position.

In some respects, IT is paying for decades of technology arrogance and moving far too slowly, but that’s another topic. My contention is that while there’s  middle ground, technology has been getting markedly short shrift as reflected in this comment from the lively LinkedIn discussion

Funny.. as a business guy with an affinity for technology and currently completing grad studies in technology, I’m interested in transitioning the other way (to some extent). Perhaps there are mutual collaboration opportunities here. Love to connect and chat more with anyone who may be interested.”

 What do you think? 

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