Excellence & Organization

Making noise is part of the trade

by Rene Funke

IT is the most important discipline for making an organisation ready for the future. What is rarely future-proof, however, is IT's self-promotion skills, so what needs to be done?

Vince Lombardi, coaching legend in American football, is reported to have once said: "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." Meanwhile, this catchphrase seems to apply to IT as well. After all, we live in a world where every day needs are met by ordering from online platforms, and bills can now be paid almost exclusively digitally. Our bank has a branch in the PC and the current financial assets are shown in a digital number on our mobile devices. If my son asks me when Vesuvius erupted in Pompeii, we no longer browse through a history book or initiate a discussion within the family, but simply talk to Google, Microsoft or our new family member Alexa. IT seems to know everything and everyone these days - it's indispensable.

IT - from king to scapegoat

This also applies to enterprise IT. On the other hand, their appreciation has developed differently than the internet ... it resembles a turbulent rollercoaster ride: In the 1970s, those who mastered the programming and operating of these futuristic technologies were gods - in the 1990s, however, they were mere sneaker-wearing nerds and cost drivers. Since 2000 many IT organisations have been reclassified as service departments, and users have become customers. Thus, over time, IT has evolved from king to order-taker and sometimes scapegoat.

IT performance - value and valuation

What has fallen behind is the fundamental acceptance of IT and the appreciation of the expert’s work - people who can accomplish more on the computer than just entering parameters into an application. However, it is difficult for non-IT people to recognise the competences and complex requirements behind it. So there is no way around it: a CIO must comprehensively prove the performance of his team in order to put internal discussions on stable ground. Verbal justifications with technical facts count for nothing. Only comprehensible arguments carry weight in a meeting - function points, value drivers, the quality of service, exorbitant requirements. If you have customers, you have to be good at selling.

Breaking away from error debates

Proof that IT is actually doing a "good" job is worth its weight in gold. This puts performance in a broader context and creates transparency. It is no longer just about failures, because CFOs and business users learn to recognise the competencies of their IT through positive events. If this succeeds over a certain period of time, appreciation gradually even sets in … and if a customer occasionally complains about IT's work, that's no big deal. This happens in the best companies. You should ask customers for their opinion more often anyway, as this deepens the relationship. With positive evaluations, the morale of the IT experts grows and they enjoy their work.

IT is the future of organisations

True, no one will bow to IT staff in the hallway anymore, those days are gone, but maybe IT clients will realise again that there are professional colleagues as well working in the internal IT organisation, many of whom have also undergone specialised training. To achieve this, IT managers must be able to present relevant data, services and the overall conditions in an understandable way. Stakeholders will then also understand that IT is not everything - but in terms of future viability, it is the only thing.

Rene Funke

Rene Funke

René Funke has held various manage­ment positions in the IT industry for over 20 years - with an excursion into the wonderful world of construction machinery. He is head of marketing and sales at Metrics.