It’s the logical consequence of two interrelated trends: the average worker becoming more tech savvy, and tech companies realizing that appealing directly to workers is as – if not more – important than appealing to IT management… There was a time when IT departments could get away with forcing employees to use complicated and hard-to-use software. The average worker didn’t know that better alternatives were out there. But as workers gain experience with consumer-focused software – either in their personal lives or at the office – they’re starting to realize that software can be easy to use and quick to get started on. It started with productivity boosters like instant messaging and collaboration software, but it’s crept into the realm of software that’s traditionally the realm of IT departments, such as sales automation.
In the language of Business-IT maturity often cited on this blog, I find that business demand in general is maturing quickly, and IT supply, as defined in terms of the collective supply (hardware, software, services) is maturing alongside demand (perhaps just slightly ahead of demand). However, if we consider IT supply through the lens of any particular IT organization as opposed to collectively, then to Ben Worthen’s and Rebecca Wettermann’s point, progress is not so rapid or so obvious at many IT organizations. I’ve referenced before that some IT shops seem to be stuck in time warp – in an age of mainframe programming and big ERP application packages, of taking orders from business partners and delivering against those orders, no matter what the potential business value. Innovation and collaboration are not seriously visible on their agendas, and notions of measuring business value of IT investments are as foreign as notions of flying saucers and apparitions.
It is the IT pros in these low maturity shops – especially those without a real ambition to drive up both business demand and IT supply maturity that I fear for. They are becoming the dinosaurs. They evolved in a time when you could get by with a fairly weak set of IT capabilities, and lay the blame on the business for “not getting it!” I come across many such IT pros who are cruising along with an ‘entitlement’ mentality. I have never been more convinced that their time is limited. They will be the ones that will be outsourced, off-shored and ultimately, will have a hard time staying actively employed.