How essential is IT to your business? Pretty much, I take? Well, whether you run a small business or a large enterprise, IT is definitely part of your outfit in one way or another. I would just invite you to consider – is it a servant or has IT become your master? Do you make decisions based on what IT feeds you, or do you use IT as part of your decision support process?
IT is analogous to the nervous system of the human body. If it is impaired, sensory nerves may be out of action, causing numbness in the extremities and therefore a reduction in intelligence collected. This means that you become less aware of what is going on around you. In more serious cases, loss of sensation may be extended inwards, meaning that you start to lose your sense of what is happening within your organization as well!
People in IT often complain that they are unappreciated until something untoward happens. They say that people notice that they exist only when there is pain. True, that is one of the functions of IT – it lets us know when things are not going well, or detects problems, issues or possible problems that could crop up. I have often asked IT people, “Well, nerves carry pain signals, true. What other signals do nerves carry?” Very often, I would get blank stares. Then I would drop the answer, “Pleasure!” Are not pain and pleasure carried by the nervous system? So, think of how you as an IT professional can bring pleasure to your organization! Opens up new vistas, doesn’t it?
Then there are people who say that IT kills innovation, or creativity. Put it this way. After you’ve gorged yourself at a BBQ, how do you feel? Full and maybe a bit lethargic? Of course, that’s part of feasting. Now, suppose you are lost in the Outback and haven’t had food for three days, but you have sufficient water. Think you might be hungry? Of course! Do your eyes become sharper? Your hearing? Sense of smell? Do you stride on looking for food with a real sense of urgent purpose? Of course you do!
Now, think. In both cases, when you are gorged and when you are hungry (not starving, I saw your thought! Three days without food is hardly starving!), did your nervous system malfunction? No, I think your nervous system was and is functioning very well, thank you! So, do you blame it for your hunger? Well, that is what you do when you say that IT kills innovation! When you are hungry after three days of no food, your IT system is fully optimized, lean and rangy, on full scan for food. Think your level of innovation would go up? I think so! Failure to innovate is not due to your IT systems. It is because you failed to innovate. When you fail to innovate, your business volume goes down. When your business volume goes down, you get hungry. However, when you were full, your IT system was still functioning properly, but you had little motivation to look for food. If business is going really well, are you too full to innovate?
Is your business hungry? Innovate, your IT systems are probably as optimized as you can make them! So, get hungry. That’s what Steve Jobs recommended, isn’t it?