Technology is not enough

As one of those lucky individuals who has had the benefit of over 25 years in the tech industry, colleagues often ask me to share my thoughts on topics related to IT management and the challenges we face. I enjoy these conversations and know that others have many of the same issues. A blog seemed a wonderful way to share my experiences with those outside my circle who may be experiencing the same challenges I’ve addressed over the years. Sharing my acquired wisdom is the catalyst and driving force behind this blog series.

You should know right off the top that I would be considered an outlier compared to many of my colleagues. You see, I’m an IT professional who believes 75% of the “IT” problems that arise aren’t really IT problems at all. Often, as IT professionals, we are simply looking for the solution in the wrong place.

Why do I believe this? Let me answer that by taking you back to the beginnings of my professional worldview.

25 years ago, I started off working in a call centre in Montreal. Within a relatively short time, I was promoted to where I was directly supervising a staff of 22. The group was performing well, and we were hitting our targets.

Then one day the company announced they were bringing new technology in the form of automated dialers. This new automated system completely disrupted the way the team had been operating. So, the team performance plummeted in no time, they re-organized the entire division and brought in a whole new group who had completely different skill sets. This team didn’t fare much better and the transition to the “new and improved” way of doing things remained a challenge.

In hindsight, the reason it failed was simple – the organization did not take into account the human element. And here is where I learned my first lesson in IT management. Technology in and of itself will not automatically make things better. If the people involved don’t embrace the change or if their day-to-day operations are not factored into the process, the project is doomed before it begins.

That experience shaped everything I’ve done in IT ever since. That’s why whenever I meet an individual in an organization I have not previously worked with, I learn everything I can about them and their organization. I read the annual report and their management reports. I want to know all of their strategic plans, what their challenges are and generally, why are they in the position they are in at that moment?

So, when I say 75% of the time as IT professionals, we are looking in the wrong place, it’s because of my belief – which is that the job of IT is to become a business enabler… and not to solve IT problems first.

I believe that the world in which IT management operates is like a river. And technology is the wide mouth of the river where we spend most of our time. But a lot of the time, the core of what we’re trying to resolve lies upriver – which is where the business drivers lie and until we journey upriver to understand the issues at its heart, we won’t fully grasp the task at hand.

Thank you for taking the time to read this first blog. I hope you’ll come back for the next installment where I discuss how pride and fear can be the biggest obstacles IT management has to deal with. I’ll give practical tips on how to overcome it should you encounter it in your workplace.

Want to chat? Please reach out and let’s start a conversation.



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