I don’t care where you work, or what industry you work in, if you are in IT then your department is subservient to the business side.

Don’t believe me? You should. IT departments are outsourced to companies like IBM all the time. Ever hear stories about how people have worked for two or three companies and never left their cubicle? Many times they are part of IT and are providing a service to the business, a service that can (and often does) go to the lowest bidder.

If you want more details about why things are this way just go and read Software Factories: Assembling Applications with Patterns, Models, Frameworks, and Tools. It helps to describe why IT departments are structured the way that they are in corporate America.

Guess what else is a service that can be outsourced?

Data.

Anyone here subscribe to the Bloomberg feeds? What about Blackrock? Now, does your company primarily produce data, or consume it?

Now, how much does the production (or consumption) of data in your shop cost? If your CIO can shave a few million dollars and reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO), what do you think they will do? I bet they will make the right choice for the company, even if that means they outsource all of IT.

Today I came across this article and it reminded me about how IT is a service organization. As a service organization IT needs to be in front of the latest trends and innovations, such as software-as-a-service (SaaS) and Cloud technologies. The reason why is quite clear to me: If you fail to provide a service to your end users they will simply go elsewhere to get what they need. I know I do that all the time for things like phone service, cable service, car service, even where I buy my wine and bacon.

The Choice Will Be Yours

We’ve seen this before. It takes IT forever and a day to get a new report created for some business user so that user then decides to use Excel or Microsoft Acces and do the job themselves. They don’t want to wait and this results in the proliferation of what we call “unmanaged data” that exists today. It’s why we have the buzzword “self-service BI”, too, because we needed to give this a name in order to legitimize the very thing that most folks in IT fought for years: end users doing things for themselves. Sometimes we refer to this as doing the “end-around” to the IT department.

Your business users often drive innovation. They are always looking for something new, to try something different, to find the edge. Much in the same way developers will want to try something new. These are the people you want on your side. You should want them to help them drive things forward.

So, here is your choice. You can either choose to go forward with them, walking side by side, or you can choose to watch them walk on by themselves.

If you go side by side, then you all get a chance to learn new things and make the right decisions for your company together.

If you let them walk on their own they are likely to find a solution that will not include you.

The cloud is here. It’s real. Your users are using it now, you just don’t know about it (yet). There is still time to jump on the bandwagon. If you don’t, you will find yourself left behind very, very quickly.

Remember that person who used to work in your department years ago? The one that didn’t get reassigned and whose job was eliminated (as opposed to being fired) because IT said they needed to create a job and staff it with someone that was considered more “agile”. Remember how that person wasn’t someone that could adapt quickly to changing technologies, and refused to stay on top of the latest trends?

Yeah. Don’t be that person. Now’s your chance.