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Yes, Managing IT Is Your Job

What a concept – that every day or every week, the project manager is in the trenches with their team to approve iterations in an Agile “Scrum” cycle. The thought seems inspiring, even downright patriotic. In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Brad Power lays out a brief history of IT management to explain why, after all this time, the IT project is suddenly everybody’s business – including the business.

IT becomes the Business of Business

“Information Technology Changes the Way You Compete” was a trailblazing HBR article by Warren McFarlan back in the early 1980s. It told how American Airlines and others had introduced systems to help their customers choose their products and services. These “channel” systems helped steer business to American Airlines. Their strategic use of information technology (IT) presaged the boom of the 1990s when the Internet made this kind of online ordering commonplace. IT went from being a potential source of competitive advantage to being a necessity for competitive parity.

The Digital Organization

Power chronicles the additional changes (ERP systems, RFID, and now technologies such as social, mobile, cloud, and Big Data) that promise to make IT more of everybody’s business. This is because, in a reversal of perspective, the business is becoming one massive IT operation. The digital organization is one that needs technology to make it better, faster, stronger, more agile, and less error-prone. It’s not that these values are new to running a business. Rather, the imperative of technology and the subsequent fusing of IT and the LOB establish a fundamental paradigm shift in organizational culture and management practice.

Changes in Management Style

The silos of IT’s past are now giving way to collaboration, enablement of differentiated strategies, accountability for business services, and a new found appetite for risk. The trend has already tipped IT operations in the direction of technology management and procurement, and away from ownership. Pau Dachsteiner, Vice President of IS at Bauer Performance Sports, prefers to view IT as an integrated component of the business tasked with solving problems to deliver business value.

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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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