Standing at the Crossroads

Looking ahead, though, there is reason to believe that the two sides will come together with a common purpose and a common language. There are many hurdles yet to overcome, but progress is being made on almost all fronts. Software is finally powerful enough to deliver to the business what it really wants—simplicity, reliability, speed, agility, depth, connectivity, collaboration—while IT is finally able to employ its own management applications and architectural methodologies (think SOA/ITIL) that will allow it to be able to deliver on the promise these strides in software engineering are bringing about.

Granted, what appears to be simple on the surface is often supported by a complex, cobbled-together mash-up of old and new technologies that requires constant vigilance. But this is the point. Software is becoming truly plug and play for the vast majority of users; even if IT knows all too well the headaches associated with making that happen. But, that’s IT’s job now—to make the difficult appear effortless, almost whimsical. And that’s all that business users want. They don’t want to know, nor do they care, how hard it might be on the back end. They just need technology to work. It has to work. They have their own convoluted challenges to overcome if the business is to survive and figuring out how to use the software tools that have become so indispensable in just a few short years, shouldn’t be one of them.

This is what many IT shops still need to learn about business. Even though many think they know, it’s best not to assume too much until you walk a mile in “their” shoes. Spend some time in sales—the heartbeat of every company big and small—to get a feeling for what the word “competition” really means. You can then go back and complain to your staff about the demands placed upon you if you want, but chances are you won’t be quite so vociferous about it once you see how the real world of business works (or doesn’t work or make any sense whatsoever sometimes).

This is the reality today. At some point in the not-to-distant future, there will be very little distinction between IT and business. One will absorb the other just as the network is likely to absorb what we call IT today. Like the telephone, IT will just be there. It will in the truest sense of the word be ubiquitous. It will simply mesh into the fabric of business just like electricity, the cubicle or the fluorescent light bulb.