I’ve been giving much thought lately to the question of what enterprise IT departments should look like. Not in terms of technologies they support, but in terms of their organizational posturing. That is the question most interesting to ponder, and most crucial to answer.
What I began to develop is that there are about three different stages in evolution of corporate IT. My thoughts on these stages are not yet complete and I will probably continue to refine and develop my views on this topic, but as plainly as I can see it right now, these are the stages.
Stage 1 – the infrastructure provider. I wrote before about how IT tends to focus on providing basic services which can now be procured cheaper elsewhere. But it seems this is the first stage of a modern enterprise IT department – when most of the time and resources are spent on providing basic services. In my observation, this is where the customer satisfaction levels are lowest as IT has little time to “raise their heads and look around”, busy dealing with the basic while the organization is clamoring for something else.
Stage 2- the force multiplier. Having the infrastructure side of things well in under control, the majority of time and resources of this department is spent working with other departments to understand and enhance their operations. This is the stage to which most of the current IT departments gravitate and virtually every organization I worked at, or speak with, are in some sort of a transition between stage 1 and stage 2.
Then there is stage 3 – the business unit. To me, this is the panacea. This is the stage where both the infrastructure and the force multiplier efforts are well under control, and the IT department can now become “one of the guys” – a revenue generating business unit. The resources dedicated to the first two stages have slack, which is then used by the organization to generate revenue for the company. Outside of providing consulting and stage 1 and 2 services to other companies, I presently find it difficult to justify engaging in any other activity, but I think this should be the ultimate goal enterprise IT.
I will continue to think through this, but what do you think about the concept, the stage definition, etc?