The question every IT professional should ask.
I think through this question quite a bit. It has significance in the equation of work satisfaction and success. It is fundamental in how every IT professional should approach their career.
What do my customers require of the Information Technology group?
Typically, we try to answer this question in terms of running the business and growing the business. I have lived the tug-of-war between providing stable systems that run the business and new systems that grow the business. It means being risk averse and cutting costs but yet taking risks and investing in new technologies. Can IT provide both and do both of them really well?
The irresistible force is growing the top line revenue of the company or finding new sources of revenue in an ever changing world. But the immovable object is the need to keep existing systems running and to satisfy an ever growing list of compliance requirements. These two forces will compete for technology dollars and mindshare. .
But maybe I’m thinking about the answer in the wrong terms.
One of my guiding principles is that I want IT to be known for products and solutions over processes. This doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in processes. But I believe that customers don’t care about the processes we use unless they receive the products and solutions that solve their needs. The discussion about processes and procedures is much easier when the customer sees that IT is acting as a true partner and bringing solutions to the table.
In the Old Testament book of Micah there is a well known verse that says:
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8
In context, this verse teaches that relationship comes before sacrifices. But it could easily be applied to the question “what does the business require of IT”? To act first in the interest of the customer not in the interest of IT (act justly). To act with kindness in those relationships with customers and business associates outside of IT (love mercy). To value partnership over arrogance and be more interested in a solution with compromise than ‘being right’(walk humbly).
When these pieces are in place then the conversation of what the business requires of IT changes. The relationship is described with terms like partnership, joint, and mutual. The approach to problem solving becomes enjoyable for both parties. I believe Micah’s teaching transcends time and places. The business requires IT to be in relationship with them first. Then work to solve for running the business and growing the business.
Onward and upward!