Thursday, July 19, 2012

Get Rid Of Your IT Department!

Well, don't get rid of the department.  Just refocus it.

Early in my career, our department was called Data Processing.  A change in management led to a new name which better represented the value that we were bringing to the business - Management Information Systems - MIS.  Over the last decade or so, we seem to have become simply IT, Information Technology.  The name implies that our mission is more about technology and less about information. "Management Information" is an infrequently uttered phrase, at best.

Businesses today, especially small and medium organizations, don't need technocrats building empires based on expensive information technology infrastructures.  From a technology point of view,  they need cost-effective, reasonably current desktops, laptops, and portable devices and robust and secure networks.  With Software As A Service gaining acceptance across all sectors, the inner sanctum of the corporate data center, especially in smaller enterprises, should be on the endangered list.

The optimum technology landscape - the typical architecture (if there is such a thing) is not the  problem.  The problem is a matter of emphasis and design of the business function and the roles of the people providing it. What businesses need instead of those technocrats are business people who have a seat at the management table and who know how to apply information technology to benefit the business.  We need fewer IT people and more MIS people, fewer IT departments and more MIS departments.

Management Information Systems exist to provide answers to important business questions, enable operational efficiency, keep the regulators happy, and create competitive advantage.  The old tried and true triangle still applies.  Management Information Systems are a synergistic whole of people, processes and technology.  The purpose is not found in the technology itself.  The purpose is running the business and making it better.

Don't get me wrong.  A lot of IT Departments are providing great MIS services.  Still, most would benefit from a pause to reflect on their reason for being, and possibly a name change, to keep their real goals front and center.  All need a periodic thorough review.  Some need a blank page overhaul.

We need to focus less on getting the most out of the technology and more on getting the most out of the information we already have to improve customer service, build better mousetraps, and grow and sustain the enterprise. There is no time like the present to critically review how much money, staff time, management attention is focused on information technology instead of management information and then take steps toward a renewed focus on the important.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Having an average day? Unlikely.

It's Saturday.  A list of chores ahead, here and there, then a Project Hood fundraiser at the University of Chicago tonight.

I was wondering how many people actually say something about their real state of mind or current activities when they update their "status" on their social media site of choice.  It seems to be a minority.  It's true for me, that most of my status updates are just things that are on my mind, or that have caught a fleeting slice of my attention for a moment or two. Sometimes, I'll try to say something pithy or motivational.  Here's a hint:  When I do that, it's even odds that I'm trying to motivate myself in some way.

In the the least scientific survey ever, I skimmed my Facebook news feed to see how my friends are doing. Like most days, our lives are filled with ups and downs.  On average, it's an average day.

Here's what some of you had to say.  You might recognize your own update but for your protection, I'm pretty sure that I've omitted any personally identifiable information. Thanks for sharing!

Feeling very manly today doing some home repairs. I will not tell you what it is because I do not want you to know how minor a big project is around this house.

Graduation, birthday, and Grandwood Park parties today...whew, hope I can take all the fun! But first, 6 miles on the river trail...

Another bad night. No restful sleep. Exhausted and excruciating headache this morning.

Wonderrful day yesterday. Nice hike with the family (including seeing a toad up close), drive along Lake Superior, lunch at The Hut, naps, dinner at the beach (including a thunderstorm) and watching a small spider build a web. Awesome!

Bastille Day! It is also my father's birthday. So many feelings! About revolution, oppression, those who betray the revolution... about my Dad, getting up before dawn to go fishing with him in the Rogue River, Oregon, and his great intelligence and rational discussion, his sexism and paternalistic ways, of his integrity and compassion... So many thoughts and feelings for one small day.


so... fate has it that our plans of binge drinking at 'la bastille', followed by authentic chinese food and visiting sleazy whore bars in the red light area have to be postponed. i myself have headache, clogged sinuses and a slight fever.

Nice, stiff black coffee and the Internet. Pure bliss.

More fantastic news. Joshua's friend Darota has come off the ventilator!

Stiff, sore and unbelievably achy all over this am, but I will go out for another walk. The Walk Boss decrees it must happen...

Morning, nothing quite like a late(ish) lie in, then it will be off to the Zoo with some friends.


On average, it seems like an average day.  But, when it's your life, averages don't matter much.  When you're down, you're down, and you hope somebody will come along and pick you up.  When you're up, you're up.  You're happy.  Be grateful but observant.  If you see somebody who's down, offer what you can, extend a hand, be willing to help them up.

Have a better than average day!