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How the Immaturity of IT Affects Calgary Businesses

 

How IT%27s Immaturity Affects Your Calgary BusinessToday we're going to continue our series on the IT industry and we will be talking to about the immaturity of IT. You often times hear small-business owners or medium-sized business complaining about their IT. I would say they are complaining a disproportionate amount compared to some of the other functional areas of their business like sales, human resources, or marketing.

Why so many IT complaints?

What is the reason for this? I think one of the major reasons for these troubles and issues and complaints is the immaturity of the IT function. We have been doing accounting as a civilization for thousands of years. We've been doing sales for thousands of years. We've been doing human resources for thousands of years. We haven’t been doing IT for that long, maybe only forty or fifty years. We always had information systems but we didn't have as much technology involved. When we had information systems that are written on paper we tended to call that "administration". With the advent of business computing now we've taken on a new life and have a new way of working which we call information technology. Information technology as a functional area within your business is so new.

IT is like a Baby

I'd like to think of it as the baby of the family. Just like a baby, there are some terrific days with information technology. When your baby takes their first steps or reaches one of those milestones, you know it's so exciting and you are taking video camera and passing this off to all of your family and friends. It's the same way with information technology. Every time we have a major innovation, think about emailed impact that that had, or the world wide web that impact, or mobile computing or social media. As these things come along, they just have a huge impact. It was something that nobody was doing two or three years ago. Now, all of a sudden, it's something that everybody's involved with. That's what's exciting about information technology. Just like a baby, they are fun, at some times they're terrific always a gift and always wonderful, but sometimes they are not so much fun. They are crying and keeping you up all night. IT can certainly have that kind of effect on you and your business, as well. It comes from that immaturity that kind of "terrible twos" I think is sometimes where we are at. We don't have a lot of structure. We don't have a lot of practice. We don't have these thousands or hundreds of years of development of working into doing things in a proper way, with some repeatable and expected results. We are still really finding our way. We are trying a lot of different things and we're working on it as we go. As a result there's a lot of instability within information technology in terms of its maturity.

How can you respond?

The real message here for you as a small or medium size business owner or professional is awareness. This isn't necessary a problem that you are going to be able to correct. Understanding that IT as a functional area kind of this old (young) and accounting is this old (mature). Sales is this old (mature). Human resources is this old (mature). Allows you to understand IT a little bit better and approach with the right way. Recognize that it is a high risk area within your organization, that it is very dynamic and always changing. Be prepared for the consequences of those effects. This has been Jonathan Nituch from Fortress Technology Planners, a Calgary IT consulting company. We will speak to you tomorrow.

Getting Stuff Done with Administration and Technology. whitepaper

Comments

I agree that the "newness" of IT creates problems that more established areas of business functionality may have "grown out of" or left behind as they "matured". 
 
One thought that occurred to me was that IT differs from the other business functional areas mentioned in that it doesn't seem to lose its "newness". If you think about how IT has changed in its relatively brief history, I think you'll see that it has a compounding problem in that its content changes radically and quickly. Compare mainframes with monochrome dumb terminals to today's cloud services and tablets with mobile broadband. A discipline like accounting needs to respond to changes in regulatory compliance laws, for example, but the core of the discipline doesn't transform as rapidly or completely as IT has over its short history and which it continues to do. 
 
On the one hand, the basic need that IT addresses hasn't changed. IT manages and facilitates information flow to support business processes (at least if it's done right). The tools and abilities of the technology doing this have transformed numerous times in IT's relatively brief history. Not only is IT struggling with it's relative newness as a functional area, it simultaneously struggles with being a "moving target" in itself. It seems that just as soon as a new technology is deployed and the business processes around it begin to stabilize, there's a newer technology that offers even greater possibilities and plans start being made for the next revolutionary deployment. This leaves IT in a constantly evolving state that compounds the problem of IT trying to mature as a business function.
Posted @ Thursday, July 19, 2012 1:26 PM by Paul Robinson
Hi Paul,  
 
The "constant newness" that you refer to is what I call the high rate of change of the IT industry. The first blog in this series is about the high rate of change in IT. I feel that it is a factor in almost all matters IT.
Posted @ Friday, July 27, 2012 6:12 PM by Jonathan Nituch
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