The disconnect between IT and business is at the heart of today's rebellion against traditional IT operations. Many IT teams literally don't understand business terminology or the questions to ask to meet business needs, creating a recipe for failure.
Example: One of Datalink's consulting teams was called on to assist a client whose storage team had planned for a 10 percent increase in storage needs but instead found itself with a 400 percent explosion in demand. The client didn't understand where the surge had come from and had not deployed the infrastructure to handle it. When the consultants spoke directly to the business units, they discovered that the IT team had made two errors in forecasting their storage requirements because they didn't "speak business."
First, they failed to understand that a new sales initiative aiming for a 10 percent increase in market share would double storage needs – not increase them by 10 percent - because the client already owned 10 percent of the market.
Second, they neglected to take into account a series of new features that would double the amount of data per customer.
Doubling the number of customers as well as doubling the data per customer added up to the 400 percent growth that caught the IT team by surprise.
With miscommunications like these, it's no wonder that business units are at loggerheads with IT departments. It may be unrealistic to ask IT to learn the lingua franca (end users, after all, don't have a clue about TiBs, speeds or processors – nor should they have to – so why should the shoe need to be on the other foot?), but a practical alternative is to appoint a marketing employee to serve as liaison between IT and business. Marketing personnel already "speak business" and know how to translate complex messages into audience friendly terms. The consultants have seen this work, creating a truce between the two sides.
Every day, it becomes increasingly clear that the IT-makes-all-the-technology-decisions model is as outdated as dial-up Internet access. From executives demanding that IT investments deliver concrete business results to end users bypassing IT departments by signing up for services like AWS, Dropbox, Office 365 and Yammer, the days of IT exercising absolute control over technology spend are over.
The question, of course, is: now what?We all know Gartner's prediction that 90 percent of IT spending decisions will be made outside of IT by 2020 as individual business units define their own technology needs. We all talk about shifting to an IT-as-a-service model in order to adapt. But the whole mindset has to change before IT can reinvent itself to fit the new role it is expected to fulfill. In this slideshow, Peter Kraatz, senior manager of cloud service management and IT resiliency at Datalink, has outlined four steps to help you get there.
Peter Kraatz is senior manager of cloud service management and IT resiliency at Datalink, a leading data center solutions and services provider for Fortune 500 and mid-tier enterprises.