An unexpected benefit of being forced to use the London underground system on a particularly hot day was overhearing a very telling conversation by the two chaps wedged in next to me. “It is outrageous you know” declared one chap, “they are constantly complaining about how slow we are to update our key corporate apps and how difficult they are to use!” “Yes I know” said the other “and do you know someone had the cheek to complain about our systems being down at 3am the other day as he had assumed 24×7 delivery?”.
The conversation then went to on reveal that these two chaps were senior managers in the IT function of a very large financial services company. Their shared outrage was directed primarily at their internal users expecting their corporate IT to reflect the user experience and flexibility of social media but also included dismay at how rapidly they now were expected to implement enhancements and iterate the application versions. As they exited the train the final comment I heard was a lament for the passing of the “good old days where you updated an app once a year at most and the users knew better than to complain”.
There has been a deal of material produced by analysts and the IT press on the consumerisation of corporate IT over recent years but this overheard conversation was telling evidence that this trend has indeed continued to become all pervasive. It is undoubtedly true the users of technology within companies now expect it to operate to the same rules and pace of the social media enable Web 2.0 world (at least!).
These expectations of easy constant accessibility, of access from multiple device types, of apps designed for a good user experience and of rapid development cycles are setting the tone for IT strategy across the business landscape to one degree or another; sometimes in hope more than expectation of delivery but part of the mind-set nonetheless. In my view this makes the IT leadership challenge more exciting, more demanding and far more connected to the “real world”. This was clearly not the view of the two chaps who prompted this musing!
The challenge perhaps more than ever before is in separating need from want, in discerning business value from me too demands and in aspiring to the same design ethics for user experience as the consumer orientated cloud computing empowered arena. Tougher role than the past, well perhaps so, but regardless certainly a far cry from the days of my early career where the IT function often had to force fed technology to its user base rather than have it assertively and avidly demanded from them by eager technology believers.
The more I think about that last comment the more it highlights how things have changed in corporate IT arena and indeed how much it dates me!
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