There is a lot of discussion at the moment about Shadow IT; how IT needs to combat it, lock it down, manage it or take advantage of it. IT, and in particular the service desk, bears the brunt of departments or individuals all the way up to executive level; expecting support on devices, services or software that they have acquired for use on their own. The more IT support and maintenance requests that are thrown at them, the less likely they are to do the innovative and interesting things they’d like to do to help the business. Because when it comes to IT Services, it’s the IT team’s problem right?
Ever heard the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child?” Which essentially means it should be a communal effort to bring up a child and the onus is not just on the parents. The concept is one that I believe is expandable to many other areas of life, including the world of work.
I hail from a marketing background where we marketing types can be fiercely protective about our brands and in particular the design elements of a brand. If someone changes a company Power Point template, then marketers are heat seeking missiles finding and speaking to the transgressor about why the template provided wasn’t used and what can be done to help that person use the right tools, or indeed take on board feedback if there is an issue with the template. If an employee needs a logo or image created they go to marketing, perhaps with some ideas of what they would like to see, but they understand that the marketing team has the expertise to see that through to execution – would it work in different colours, different sizes, different materials, what’s the cost of four colour logo compared to a two colour logo in the long run – all of the things that those outside of marketing may not have thought or known about.
If an organization launches a new brand, then many months of background research and interviews take place with internal staff, customers and other influencers in order to get a 360 degree view of current opinions and sentiment about the organization and what would work in the future. That new brand is likely to be communicated through a company meeting. Presentations by senior executives outline the new, or modified, brand values, the brand experience, the message, the brand image, the potential intangible asset value on a balance sheet, the expected employees contribution to rollout plans; in essence many different parts of an organization from marketing, HR, accounts to the administration staff answering the phone in the new manner – all come together to support a brand rollout.
How many times have you heard the same said about IT projects and services? There’s the rub. When it comes to IT, they don’t seem to get the same support or recognition, yet just like marketing specialists, IT staff are the experts in their field of IT opportunity cost and risk and are the advisors, the protectors and the service brokers. And yes, whilst we can’t deny more could be done by some IT teams to go out into the field and understand the needs of their end users, they also need the support of their community, or in this case other departments within the organization, when delivering and maintaining IT projects and services.
Why shouldn’t a rollout of a new service or a policy on user owned IT be an agenda item at company meetings, supported by the HR team when it comes to usage policies, the finance team to stand firm on IT expense claims, or explain what happens to budgets in general due to rogue spending? Why do we not allow the IT team a platform at company meetings to explain the innovations and experience they would like to bring to employees and paint the current experience based on the disparate IT tools introduced and used by different departments that IT must then support? The value of technology to the success of organizations these days is not disputed, but the value of IT teams that maintain these technologies, it seems, still is.
That is why I say, IT is not just the IT team’s problem. Just like every other department IT teams need and require the support of every other department in an organization to be successful.