Today's Providers Look Like Tomorrow's IT Managers

In "What IT Needs To Change To Survive" I mentioned some things successful IT leaders need to do going forward. The good news is that IT leaders have a great role model to look to. All we need do is look at our favorite service providers, consultants, and vendors and we know where we're going.

It's remarkable to compare the relationships that many senior IT managers have with their vendors to their relationships with their own companies' executives. Let's try it.

1. Our vendors make it their job to know what we are doing, what our problems are, and how they can provide value to us. They are constantly tracking our project wish list and our budgets. They know what our major initiatives and our big challenges are. We, on the other hand, always complain that we're the last to know. We ignore relationships in favor of processes. We would rather comply with ITIL than take our peers to lunch and pick their brains. This is not going to work going forward. Failing to establish relationships will spell doom for IT management in the near future. Companies will not be content to simply dislike IT. It's no longer an all-or-nothing outsourcing proposal--they'll go elsewhere one application at a time.

2. We expect vendors to keep us up to speed with the latest options. Especially where consultants are concerned, we expect them to know more about what's out there than we do. Do we provide that same level of intelligence to our companies? Pretty soon (i.e. already) our BUs are going to realize that we don't provide that degree of insight to them. If we are to remain relevant, we need to be fluent in the external offerings that can solve their problems and meet their needs. If not, we'll be like mainframe experts making big data pitches.

3. We expect vendors to say, "yes." Better? "Yes." Cheaper? "Yes." Faster? "Yes." Moreover, we expect them to deliver on what they say, despite our constant stops and starts, our frequent changes, our late payments, and our endless griping. Yet to our companies we frequently invoke the "no" doctrine. We want them to pay more, give us more time, and settle for what we can deliver within the confines of our standard offerings. We resent their constantly putting things on hold and then rushing them. We don't like project creep, late budget approvals, and most of all, complaints about our inability to work magic.

The problem is that the time is coming when the cloud will offer them an alternative to us. The same vendors that bend over backward for us will bend over backward for our business units. If we fight it and try to pigeon hole our companies into our "service catalog" and our "engagement methodology," they're going to go elsewhere.

Wanna be a CIO in 2020? Start acting the way you expert your best vendors to act.

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1 comment:

Mark said...

You make several cogent observations. One wonders if it is not inevitable that corporate IT disintegrate - and whether or not this is a bad thing for the IT profession. For all its problems and shortcomings It management does not have a monopoly on the qualities of lack of insight, leadership, vision and willingness to engage. Corporate IT departments are often treated like the horse that is beaten incessantly by its owner, which by the way is behaviour that the owner has the power and latitude to do, but eventually the horse dies and the owner now has a dead horse to deal with.