DeanO’s A-BLOG Episode #6

DeanO’s A-BLOG Episode #6…

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More on the future of IT Managers and IT departments.

IT-World Canada article by Sandra Rossi – “IT managers may become ‘directors of processes’

John Roberts, Gartner VP

Extra special bonus:
Code Monkey from Jonathan Coulton

Dean Owen



Recently a friend of mine announced that he has sold his business and is retiring. Good for him! We knew each other through a hobby we share and we never talked business. At least, hardly never. He knew what I did for a living but his investment in computing was minimal so we never talked about it much. As far as I knew he had two computers – one for the bookkeeper in the office and the other at home which he shared with his wife. Since he was winding down his involvement in his business for the last few years, he was unlikely to invest in technology. So why am I talking about him in my blog? His success in business and how these traits can be supported by technology.

From what I could see he was successful in his business through the application of two basic principles: a high quality product and customer communication. Being the type of fellow that he was, I would suspect that he knew every customer by name. He never seemed to be too busy to chat with folks, either over the shop counter or at lunch or during many of his social interactions. He had his own social and business network which he used to communicate with people, many of whom were his customers or would be some day. Not only does he like to talk, but he’s a great listener. Now what does this have to do with technology? People like to talk with people and customer communication is key to a successful business. Technology can support this and make the experience richer and bear fruit – if used properly!

My friend comes from the generation where face to face conversation (face-mail?) is how they communicate… that is the medium they use for their social networking. On the other hand, many people, the younger generation, the digital natives, use technology to communicate. The business need for communication has not changed, but how we connect with each other has expanded to include everything from cell phones, text-ing, email, discussion groups, blogging, instant messaging, and all of those other Web 2.0 related technologies.

Does your enterprise or small business provide these opportunities to your staff and your customers to talk to each other? Or do you still rely on face-mail? Isn’t it time to move on these new technologies and use them as tools to support the basic human need to communicate?

Dean Owen

IT Governance

While reading through my various feeds this morning, I eventually reached the following article from BuilderAU on a particular IT consultant’s incompetence and how it was uncovered through an assessment by another business consultant. A quote from the article “…how we identified imprudent management activities, poor control mechanisms, and incompetent business activities that threatened the viability of the organisation…”. A very interesting article on why a company – SME or enterprise – needs to have a clear, industry standard based IT governance set of practices, including the evaluation of internal and as in this case, external services.

Does your company have a set of measurement tools and processes to ensure your IT is delivering value to your company? This is the value of such international frameworks such as ITIL/ITSM and COBIT. Regardless of whether you have four computers or four thousand, your enterprise can benefit from IT governance.

Dean Owen

Ubiquitous Participation

Why IT departments will survive Web 2.0 By: Shane Schick
Dr. David Jacobson, from PriceWaterhouseCooper talks about an ‘enterprise IT centre’ – more than just a data centre – it would support technologies thatallow customers, partners and employees to collaborate and communicate with each other’. According to Dr. Jacobson, this would allow the CIO and the IT department to get back into the game.

Well said Dr. Jacobson! According to this article, PwC is studying ‘social networking’. With this heavy duty endorsement, does it mean Web 2.0/Enterprise 2.0 is starting to be seen as a legitimate business tool? I would think so. If you read the article you will notice that there are references to the IT department role changing for some, if not most enterprises. Dr. Jacobson is encouraging CIO involvement with business decision and planning. That’s the big leap for many folks out there. I doubt that most – enterprises and/or individuals – will be able to make it.

As to the title of this post – it comes from this article: “PwC uses the term ubiquitous participation to refer to bottom-up approaches to content generation and sharing.”  It sounds like the wikifiying of the enterprise to me!

Dean Owen

Web Page Checklist

Check out this site: Vincent Flander’s Web Pages that Suck 2.0 and ask yourself this: Does your website suck?

At the risk of offending some folks (like multi-media developers who design and build web sites) I wanted to share this with you. Remember the IBM TV commercial from years ago where the web designer asks the business client if they wanted a flaming logo or rotating logo and the client replied they wanted to connect with customers? Somethings never change. I especially liked Mr. Flanders reference to ‘flashturbation’! Check out their picks for worst sites…very entertaining!

Dean Owen

More on MSPs and the new IT department

There seems to be more and more discussion in the IT world about Managed Services Providers and the duality of the IT department – strategy vs. tactical.

This item from Jason Hiner at TechRepublic speculates on the future of the IT department.
“Sanity check: Is IT moving toward an inevitable split between in-house strategy and outsourced operations?”

Some very serious – not just vendors – names are mentioned in the article as clearly identifying the two distinct roles and activities of an IT department.

I’m curious to know – does your organization think this way?

Dean Owen

The O word

To outsource or not to outsource – that is the question!(?)

IDC Canada press release “IDC Canada finds a wide gap between outsourcing clients’ expectations and the services provided” Any one surprised? BTW: this is what IDC Canada is about.

Another take on the survey results is this IT World Canada article by Briony Smith – “Canadian outsourcing satisfaction rates plummet

I can’t afford to purchase the original survey results from IDC, but if you’re thinking about outsourcing or you are not being satisfied by your current outsourced services provider – maybe it would be a good investment for you.

Briony Smith mentions such nuggets as:

  • “Business satisfied with their outsourcers dropped from 50 per cent (2004 survey) to 33 per cent.”
  • “Relationship management satisfaction went from 71 per cent (2004 survey) to 54 per cent”

 I don’t want to pirate the article but I couldn’t help but nod my head in agreement as I read through it. There was mention of Outsourcers not being flexible, the changing role of IT in business, clients are far more demanding, service delivery issues and measurement, practices and processes implementation…Hey wait a minute! Isn’t this what they also say about in-house IT departments? Aren’t these issues the very things the vendor sales person told the president, over a round of golf or cocktails, that their company could address and fix?

Don’t get me wrong – outsourcing is not a bad thing, we outsorce many things in our life – everything from making shoes to building a house. If we feel we are not getting value for money, or the product is shoddy we don’t think twice about taking it back to the vendor and complaining. Why dosen’t this happen more often with outsourced IT? Don’t forget, I make my living by being an outsourced consultant. My goal is to deliver value for money and to ensure my clients get a strong ROI on their investment in IT and in me.

In other blog posts, I’ve taken issue with the traditional outsource model and even offered a new take (not just mine but others as well) on the best way for a client to get value for money spent on IT.

It finally looks like enterprises are getting wise and putting presure on IT vendors to deliver. Good for them!

Dean Owen

10 Things Your IT Department Won’t Tell You- WSJ

I subscribe to TechRepublic and the following post came in today’s email:
Sanity check: Did The Wall Street Journal sabotage businesses by publishing tips on how to circumvent IT? 

Wow! Great comments – and lots of them. They ranged all the way from – “it’s about time” to “shame on them“.

Here’s the WSJ article: 10 Things Your IT Department Won’t Tell You.

On the surface it appears very irresponsible for the WSJ to publish this advice with the step by steps to work around IT. To their credit they do talk about the risks – to the user and the company. How many folks will read the risks and pay attention to them?

You know how I like to question the traditional IT department and management, but this time I’m on their side – mostly!

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