Archive for March 17th, 2008

Is IT just the newest profession?

Monday, March 17th, 2008

I frequently muse on the relationship between IT and the business, so I was interested to read this WSJ article by Amit Basu and Chip Jarnagin, that dares to suggest that IT’s isolation is even greater than I thought.  Namely that a glass wall exists between IT and everything else.

The article is pretty balanced and does point out that it is not exclusively IT’s fault.  Indeed one of the problems IT often faces is getting appropriate representation around the board table.  I don’t buy the argument that CIOs bring this upon themselves.  It’s up to the CEO whether he wants IT on the board.  A secondary decision is who to appoint, and if there is nobody internal, then he can recruit externally.

I also like the fact that Amit and Chip point out that there is a responsibility on the business to embrace IT and try to understand its value.  Conversely there is clearly an onus on IT to focus on and demonstrate the value that it adds.

There is a need to speak each other’s language and IT people are frequently accused of using jargon, but how many IT people (or how many business people…) understand all the jargon used by accountants?  Senior officers are obliged to learn the accountant’s language if they want to get on, so why not IT language too?  Equally, accountants have had to learn a bit about marketing geek lingo too, and we are all at the behest of HR’s guide to political correctness – a language all of its own.

So how come other disciplines are always accepted and IT often isn’t?  Is Information Technology just the newest profession?  Can we look back at accountants and learn from how they gained recognition?  What about marketeers?  Didn’t they all just prove that they added value at some point in the past?  In the absence of recognition from the CEO, maybe the CIO is the only person who can raise the profile of IT in their own organisation.

Will I look back on this post before I retire, and wonder what on earth I was talking about?  By then, surely IT will simply be an accepted profession in every organisation, like Finance, Sales, Marketing and HR are right now.