Drain The Moat
Do you know the song, Fortress Around Your Heart by Sting? The gist of the song, utilizing a battle-themed metaphor, is about a lover that cannot be won back due to a history of previous quarrels building up insurmountable defenses. This song has taken on new meaning to me as a result of a recent client experience.
We received a request to identify the best approach to satisfy the CRM requirements of a regional subsidiary within a global medical device business. Central IT, based at the corporate headquarters and located on a different continent, had selected a solution that this region did not embrace. The issue was centered on the belief that the chosen on-premise software was not going to be sufficiently agile as compared to a business-preferred cloud vendor’s capabilities. Our analysis compared the business requirements against the two technology approaches to determine which had the greatest ability to satisfy the demands.
It was a difficult engagement. The enmity and distrust between the business and IT was a strong dynamic and a serious impediment to reaching a productive conclusion. Our investigation necessitated an assessment of IT capabilities, which was resisted at every turn with severe defenses. Our recommendations were rebuked as if we were conducting a castle siege. There were no flags of truce, just like in Sting’s lyrics.
Because of the direction the technology marketplace is heading, we are likely going to witness more of this bunker mentality, but it does not have to be this way. Certainly we have seen great progress over the last decade regarding the concept of IT / Business alignment, but it is probable that the evolution of software to the cloud will be a great stressor to this improved organizational relationship. The migration of applications to the cloud can be viewed as a threat to the IT function, and it is typically accompanied with the need for organizational changes, particularly regarding skills and roles, which adds more stress. But, new technology approach is also an evolution of progress and can serve as an opportunity for IT to advance its abilities to serve the business more effectively.
Within companies that experience a tenuous relationship between the business and IT, the move toward the cloud will more than likely be a challenge. Because of a history of skirmishes IT no doubt has erected a fortress with a moat, drawbridge, and cannons. The business regularly pounds on the ramparts with artillery fire. It does not seem productive to me.
I propose a truce – stop firing and send up a flag. Let’s lower the drawbridge and drain the moat. Maybe we can re-forge the cannons into something less counterproductive. If we are going to re-examine how we achieve CRM, such as the consideration of a move to the cloud, it will require both parties to work on the same side. Yes, I understand that the business can be frustrated with their IT support and I also understand the frustrations of those who deliver that support. But, the analysis required to understand a migration to the cloud, and whether it makes business sense, will require collaboration.
So, are you considering a move to a castle in the clouds (that was what our study found would satisfy the client requirements best in this particular case)? Business stakeholders – you need to engage your IT folks as allies in the process. IT leaders – drop your defenses and view this as an opportunity to advance the capabilities of your function. Don’t surround your applications with towering battlements.
We can build a better castle working together.