Mr Downs, the Deputy MD, proudly showed me the top floor of the new office building housing their state of the art computer. The glass walls contained the essential cool and clean air and allowed visitors to gawp at the spinning tapes and flashing lights being attended by white coated techies. It was 1973, and we were witnessing the beginning of a new age, Mr Downs told us, when computers would replace many dull, and mundane jobs. He added that he anticipated a day when computers would be used for everything and business people would need to truly embrace this new future, or end up on the scrap heap.
I took my first programming lesson that day from one of the techies to feed this machine a simple mathematical calculation translated onto carefully punched cards. We would be able to collect our printed report on the outside of the glass wall divide the following day at the business desk.
It’s more than 40 years later, and businesses and homes are awash with computing devices. There’s more computing power in my watch than on that entire top floor of equipment back in the early 70’s. Much has changed… except it seems there remains a divide between the techies behind that glass wall and the business desk on the outside.
At the end of 2016, Barbara Dossetter of CIO Connect and I undertook a research project to understand better the current frustrations and challenges faced by both tech and business leaders. It’s something I’ve been doing every three years or so that we can continue to pragmatically address the real issues faced in the workplace and not just spout empty Ivory Tower theories.
What is particularly shocking is that those essential glass walls from the 70’s are metaphorically still in place today. It seems that Business Leaders are frustrated that the techies are still not aligning the systems to the needs of the business. In the meantime, Tech Leaders tell us that they are frustrated with stakeholders (business leaders) changing their minds throughout the projects!
Could it be that these two major frustrations that cost massive time delays, a significant reduction in ROI from projects and inordinate stress to both parties have the same root cause?
And before my fellow Techies get up in arms about this and suggest that it should be the business folk who should learn to speak tech unto tech… let me share a little secret with you. Business language hasn’t changed in over a century. Tech changed yesterday. We cannot expect business people to learn the language of Tech. Respect and recognise the vast contributions and acknowledge all the excellent work, yes. But if we wait for Business leaders to learn how to communicate to tech, we’ll miss this opportunity to address the challenges.
And the great news is that it will be possible to achieve the holy trinity for tech projects once we learn how to bring all stakeholders on board and keep them partnering together. On time, within budget and delivered on business needs and expectations.
But it’s not solely the responsibility of the tech team. As one of my clients mentioned after reading the draft report: There isn’t a single project in the business that doesn’t now involve IT in some way. We need to Invest time up front on tech and business programmes to ensure that all stakeholders completely understand and that the programme is aligned with what the business wants and needs is likely to save swathes of wasted time and effort and money later.
Discover all the frustrations and issues from both the Tech and Business perspectives and what it costs your business.
Barb and I are putting together some exciting development and consulting solutions to overcome these issues, and we’ll be sharing the Power Continuum Dashboard in the coming weeks as one way you can quickly and accurately assess where your organisation sits in its maturity for the 21st century.