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IT and the Business: Is the Cloud the Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship?


ITvsTheBusiness-964688-edited.jpgThe business press is loaded with books and articles highlighting the rather tempestuous relationship between “the Business” and “IT.” In 8 Things We Hate About IT: How to Move Beyond the Frustrations to Form a New Partnership with IT, Susan Cramm puts a pretty good wrapper around the office workflow issues I hear from business people and the frustrations they have about “traditional” IT:

  1. Business hates when IT is overly bureaucratic and control oriented.
  2. Business hates when IT consists of condescending techies who don’t listen.
  3. Business hates when IT is reactive rather than proactive.
  4. Business hates when IT proposes “deluxe” when “good enough” will do.
  5. Business hates when IT doesn’t deliver on time.
  6. Business hates when IT doesn’t understand the true needs of the business.
  7. Business hates when IT doesn’t support innovation.
  8. Business hates when IT inhibits business change. 

Now of course, there really ought to be a parallel list. After all, it takes two to create a relationship – or lack thereof. If I were to summarize the things I hear from IT organizations about the Business side, the list might look something like this:

  1. IT hates when the Business initiates a project and then walks away from further involvement until the project is launched. And then complains about the result.
  2. IT hates when the Business tosses a set of overly complex, conflicting and vague requirements into our lap and expects us to sort things out.
  3. IT hates when the Business comes up with major systems ideas after “playing around on their iPad.”
  4. IT hates when the Business refuses to prioritize.
  5. IT hates when the Business implements a SaaS solution without consulting us – or in fact, anyone.
  6. IT hates when the Business surprises us.
  7. IT hates when the Business forces us to do things “now” that we know we will regret.
  8. IT hates when the Business comes to us and asks us to resolve ID-10-T errors (figure it out).

Do things always need to continue like this? Is there any way to break this cycle?

I think that the cloud, and especially a predictable document platform for office workflows, can go a long way toward taking some of the day-to-day tactical tensions out of the Business-IT relationship. It is a pragmatic tool:

  • It provides a framework for the Business to solve its own problems.
  • It provides a platform for the Business to assume responsibility for improvements in the processes it knows best.
  • It pushes responsibility and accountability for process improvement to the Business, where it belongs.

The cumulative impact of these seemingly modest Business-driven improvements sets a pattern of employee empowerment that carries over into a more strategic relationship with IT. It frees IT to support innovations in the platform itself – and how it connects with other strategic platforms – rather than being preoccupied with tactical distractions.

At the end of the movie Casablanca, after a long story of antagonism, Rick Blaine tells Capt. Louis Renault, “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

The cloud (and document management and workflow cloud services like DocuWare Cloud) creates an opportunity for IT to do what it does best – deliver and support platforms – and for the Business to do the same – identify and implement improvements in their business.

And perhaps move beyond the mutually-defeating “8 things we hate” and create the “beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

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