Meeting the demands of business

End-users want fuss-free, effective IT delivery

"Deliver IT without fuss, get involved in business improvement and give us good leadership"

This should be a plaque on every IT person's desk as this is what the business wants. However, we need to unpack this to see what business is really asking for. Business is asking for three things: deliver IT without fuss, give the business results for IT spend and give good, strategically aligned IT leadership.

But before we go into this in more detail, I need to introduce a useful concept: the momentum line. It is a concept that I have found extremely valuable over the past 10 years or so in describing many concepts, activities, and IT budgets. Imagine your organisation has a momentum - the impelling force that gives it the normal revenue stream.

In this analogy, your organisation has a mass; this relates to the size of the organisation, its geographical spread, the number of employees, the number of branches or depots and customers, etc.

Your organisation also has velocity; this is the speed at which it is heading in a certain direction. Your organisation's speed relates to how fast it gets things done and how dependent it is upon that speed. A mobile phone network or radio station for example cannot afford one second off-line, but a mining company might be able to move at a slower pace.

That leaves two critical words: without fuss. Business does not want to be bothered with this part of IT. They do not want to be told that "We cannot do this because of legacy systems" or that "We need to upgrade to Scribbit 4.7 or we will lose the maintenance cover".

And they do not want to hear that "IT has met its service level agreement targets at 98.1% availability index on the tier two network", when you know that your PC has not been able to connect to the remote network for the past four weeks.

To the business, pure IT is like a toilet - they do not want to know about it unless it is broken. This is bad news for IT people, because they believe that if the business is spending so much money on technology, they surely should show some interest or even make some effort to understand the issues. And the answer is no. Business in general doesn't want to know, and why should it?

The expectation is that IT should handle things, guiding the organisation through the technological landscape by applying technological expertise to resolve problems.

A psychological theory ranking human needs from basic to a higher level - Maslow's triangle - can be applied to corporate IT.

The bottom, most basic layer of the triangle would be stability. At the apex of the triangle is return on investment.

Most IT people I speak to are working hard at the lower parts of this triangle. They will tell me they need to build the IT foundation by adding building blocks in order from bottom to top. And it is little wonder they do not spend a lot of time in the return on investment block.

But here's the rub: business has no such triangle in their heads. They want it all. 

What Business Really Wants From IT, by Terry White, is available from the Computer Weekly Professional Series. To order call 01865 888180 or visit

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