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Break IT ‘Glass Houses’ with Transparent Communications with End Users

Can you see me? Can you see me now? The IT of the past was a “glass house” only in appearance. Today’s IT, though invisible to the average user, is much more transparent thanks to cloud computing and forward thinking IT management. Mary Shacklett  of TechRepublic compares today’s lack of communications barriers with the old IT of the past.

Meet the Old Boss

The “glass house” of IT originated in the 1950s, when enterprises began constructing glass windows that allowed visitors to peer into their computer rooms at impressive displays of mainframes, card readers, storage cabinets, tape racks, consoles, and computer operators who moved with purpose and resolution from one workstation to another to attend the day's processing. In the post-World War II era, these demonstrations of enterprise strength overwhelmed awe-filled visitors, board members, management, and employees.

From a visual standpoint, these old rooms were clearly transparent; what went on inside them was not. Batch requests went in and reports came out, but none dared enter the glass house of IT. Today, some IT units still follow a similar model. But as technology falls increasingly into the domain of the end user, CIOs in the vanguard are trying to ‘break the glass’ in an effort to offer real transparency.

Meet the New Boss

Some ways in which CIOs are advancing the cause of transparency include learning about business processes, developing relationships across the spectrum of stakeholders from management to end user, identifying the core contributors to business and technical prowess, and communicating in coherent (non-techie) terms to all relevant parties.

The move to more transparent governance is often hard won. Replacing CIOs with business managers failed. Putting CIOs through ‘business boot camp’ of outsourcing IT completely wasn’t the answer either. In the end, a savvy CIO armed with the right mix of business know-how and technical competency is the best tool for shattering the glass house of IT.

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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