The Business of IT: Are you running IT for Business or Pleasure?

boy in a ball pit with shark attackingIT management teams must consider what is the business of IT in their organization and if they are running IT for business or for pleasure. This is an important activity that should have a degree of urgency for every IT management group. I suggest urgency because your organization may already be forming their own opinion on the business of IT and if you are focused on it or not.

Soul searching is never easy, let alone when it involves an IT management team that probably has a few Type A folks, lot’s group dynamics and maybe limited business management experience. But that is not enough of a reason to not engage your peers on this issue.

Business of IT Distractions

Business management might seem like an abstract idea when you are living every day in the chaotic mash-pit of the consumerization of IT, cloud computing, mobile, and social computing. This isn’t just about iPads or cloud computing. There are a number of disruptive technologies at every layer of the stack promising to spawn whole new architectures and computing models. That is why it is critical IT management remains focused on the business of IT and the business of your organization and not get distracted by the chaos.

Focusing on Business Management

I am not saying you should start running IT like a business to the point of becoming an IT service company or becoming a profit center. What I am saying is that you can’t run around like a one-eyed dog in a sausage factory. You have to follow systematic and proven business management disciplines in running the IT operations, making IT investment decisions and guiding the company through the choices.

Think of what I am saying as more like advice to the adults at a kids birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Make sure everyone has a good time, keep your eye on the budget, and don’t let Craig put cake in Karin’s hair. Maybe the analogy of IT management being the designated driver works better for you. Don’t run up a tab, encourage some moderation, and no matter what they do you have to get them home safe.

I know the transition from IT staff to management is not always easy. But somewhere along the way up the management ladder you have to make the shift in focus to the business of IT. That includes the more general business management competencies in financial management, performance management techniques, and operations management that is more linear.

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