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No, that isn't the cry of my 11-year-old daughter (well, actually it is, but not in this context). It is the cry of IT. At the beginning of a budgeting cycle, you will hear the wails of poor IT people, trying to get Herculean tasks accomplished while groveling for the scraps that fall from the table.
Unfortunately, IT is run in a vacuum and is a slave that answers to those who dole out the dough. The fact that different groups dole out different dough means we run a zillion different IT operations, and none have any economy of scale. This came about because IT was never a strategic thing--it was tactical, a support center for each business unit or application. The business unit itself owns the budget, the glory of success and the blame for failure. Therefore, it also owns the money, and can dictate that it will look good even if the rest of the organization looks like a reject from The Jerry Springer Show. One for all and all for me!
That creates pockets of "IT islands," which lead to abysmal asset utilization, horrid management, ineffective data protection and really pissed off IT guys. Admit it, in your shop you have at least one Sun E10K with an EMC Symmetrix hanging off of it running an application that could get by executing on a Ranger Rick Super Spy watch. Conversely, right next door is a 1977 Univac 1 with 128KB of storage that another business unit is attempting to perform business intelligence functions on.
Someone has to explain to the CEO, COO
Afraid to talk to the CxO? Don't be. Smart CxOs realize they don't know diddly about your world, and should always be willing to listen--as long as you go in with a real issue, and not just a bitch session. The fact is, IT that's run as tactical islands is inefficient and very costly--and that a CxO will listen to.
Have your boss, their boss or someone that has the ear of the executive team get some time with the mucky- mucks and convince them that IT should be allowed to retool the entire infrastructure and management of that infrastructure to act as a service bureau to the entire corporation. IT can then sell "services" to the business units (which, trust me, is all they care about). Those services are the deliverables such as: "We'll deliver 100,000 transactions per hour and guarantee recoverability on any failure in four hours."
Charge the business units for the services delivered and put the money in to a pool so that IT--and not the business unit--controls how those services are delivered. Then if it's screwed up, it's our fault. What CxO in their right mind wouldn't go for that? If not, then polish your resumÉ, because that company is doomed.
This was first published in October 2003