Thursday, July 28, 2011

In This Corner: IT vs Business Management

What is the most important thing that Business Management folks do not “get” about IT?

   Agility

What is the most important thing that IT folks don’t “get” about Business Management?

   Quantification

You could replace “Agility” with “Efficiency” but most IT folks have a very tough time having a full-on conversation about “Efficiency” with a room full of MBA suits.

You could replace “Quantification” with “Business Case”, but MBA suits have a different view of that term that IT folks.

In either case: one side knows what they want, but have a tough time communicating it in quantitative terms.  the other side can show quantitative ideas all day, but can’t metaphorize it into tangible examples.  How do you like that word, “metaphorize”?  Ha!  I claim it.

You can take a noun and make it a verb, like “man up!” and “Google it!”, so why not draw a metaphor by saying you will “metaphorize”?  Why not?  Anyhow…

IT folks innately “know” what it means to glue to heterogeneous data sources into a third new form that provides added value.  They know what means to upgrade a software product or operating system to gain new features that save them effort and time, and allow them to pursue new automation practices previously difficult or impossible to consider.  But if you ask them to quantify the savings or the gains they look like a deer in the headlights.  I’m not talking about university-trained CIO types.  I’m talking home-grown CTO and underlings.

MBA/CPA types know how to balance numbers.  How to clearly point out income versus outgo.  Revenue and expense.  Profit.  And they can break down revenue streams and expense allocations to see where the money “flows”.  But if you ask them what value a new Active Directory scheme or a newer and more efficient database means to business efficiency and they will most likely think you just spoke Swahili in a Chinese restaurant.

Are there exceptions to this “rule”?

Absolutely!  There are exceptions to almost every rule.  There are fish that fly and cats that swim, so rules are always with their exceptions.

MBA types that started out in the trenches, before going to school, are the most valuable of all managerial types.  They understand the world upon which they oversee.  And IT folks that have gone to school to study business, marketing and finance are incredibly powerful assets for any IT operation.  There are exceptions.  But I’m talking about the majority.  The status quo.  The standard issue. 

Bridge the gap.

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