A huge part of the IT ecosystem consists of local IT service providers that are in effect the IT departments for hundreds of thousands of companies that either can't afford or don't want to manage their own internal IT departments.
Most of these IT services companies exert a tremendous amount of influence over what their customers actually purchase in terms of IT, but just like internal IT organizations, many of them are struggling with developing a more intimate relationship with the businesses they serve.
But unlike many internal IT organizations that seem to struggle in isolation, many of these IT services companies are banding together under the auspices of industry associations such as The ASCII Group to discuss how to better align their IT services with the businesses they serve. Much of that discussion focuses on issues related to managed services and cloud computing, but when you peel back all the discussion about delivery models, it becomes apparent that IT services companies are struggling to align themselves to the businesses they server just as hard as any internal IT department.
What's interesting about the forums that ASCII is using to discuss these issues with IT services companies is how the same concept might be applied to bringing business leaders, internal IT executives and external IT services companies together to really discuss the role of IT in the business. We hear all the time about how business executives complain that IT is holding them back; we hear internal IT organizations complain about how the business doesn't understand IT; and we hear IT services companies complain that both the business or the internal IT department don't really understands the true value of IT.
Maybe instead of letting these constituent bodies of the IT ecosystem continue to complain about each other in isolation, the time has come to bring them all together to start hashing these issues out once and for all. Like any prolonged therapy session, it's going to take years to come to terms with IT issues that have been allowed to fester for decades. But until everybody is in the same room talking about the same issues at the same time, nothing is ever going to really fundamentally change for the better.