Friday 13 July 2012

Forgotten about act of day to day IT operations

An important but easily forgotten part of a company is its day to day IT operations.  What create kudos is new stuff, like development.  This is where Executive management has its IT eye in a company whose core business is not IT.  This is a natural progress from that share value is seen to have all current  status built into its current pricing and only new announcements can afflict it in a positive way.
This often leads to the attitude that IT operations is just “your job” and achievements is treated thereafter.   Sometimes for a CIO the only way of getting cudos for the operations part is through saving money by outsourcing it.  No wonder 90% of their attention is on development.   
Problem is that today IT operations is at the core of every business.  Few can handle even the simplest task without their backend computers, networks and core infrastructure running perfectly.  When you outsource it you lose part of the control on a vital part of your business success.  It’s not until it goes wrong, and sometimes very wrong ref Ulster bank, that top management takes an interest.  This often leads to a negative aspect.  Every time IT gets attention it’s because something went wrong.  And since rewards are only given for positive news, day to day running of IT becomes a neglected non rewarding area.  And the most neglected part of all is often Disaster Recovery.  A part of IT that will always have a certain stigma over it, due to it’s need of negative thought.  An important key element non the less since its what prepares you for what every IT manager now is  inevitable;  a major system let’s call it hiccup.
It is sad that many non IT executives in businesses whose core activity is not IT related, almost takes pride of their lack of knowledge of IT.  They couldn’t express it so openly if it was about any other side of their business they lacked core knowledge.  
This leads to that the CIO/IT Directors role becomes a buffer between IT and the top executives.  And since it’s the top executives that hires said CIO they often end up with a “talker” rather than a doer  with real knowledge.  
Building downwards from there, the “talker” CIO will see too that he don’t hire anyone in lower ranks that can upstage him/her.  Alternatively will feel a need to ensure that anyone able to do such a thing has no channel of communication with the executive level.  Often an easy solution since the executive level has no interest anyway.
This is the type of scenario where massive problems eventually will bubble to the surface.  It also makes for an unhappy company with resentment growing through the lower ranks.
To avoid more pitfalls in the future the executive level  needs to get a better understanding for what makes their business tick on a day to day level.  Unless you have your core right, future success can not be assured, and even the new stuff will only give temporary success at best.   
The losers in the long run will be the shareholders. Long term the company that do not have control of their day to day operations, and IT operations is a vital part of this, will lose out, or fail spectacularly. 

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