Why Line of Business Managers Hate IT (and How ITaaS Can Change That)

Jan 08, 2014

Newsflash for IT employees: Your Line of Business (LoB) colleagues don’t like you.

Well, maybe they like you in a “did you see the game last night?” or “how’s the new baby?” sort of way. But when it comes to identifying trusted resources to support them in doing their jobs, you’re at the bottom of the list.

The antipathy has deep roots, going back to the days when the IT department was the only game in town. At first, LoB employees were more than a little intimidated not only by office technology, but also by the IT employees who had the knowledge and power to control those whirring machines.

As technology became more entrenched in the workplace, IT employees’ power only grew. LoB employees had to beg IT for the upgraded PCs or new applications they desperately needed, citing urgent project deadlines or customer commitments. And IT technicians, juggling too many requests and too few hours in the day, often pronounced a judgment the LoB didn’t want to hear: “No,” or worse, “Write up the requirements and I’ll see if I can get approval to include it in next year’s project plan.”

To this day, in many companies, there is a rift between IT and LoB departments. It starts with physical separation. When they’re not working from home, LoB employees work in cubicles or (more recently) shared open spaces geared toward collaboration. When they’re not working at home, IT employees are likely to dwell in the basement or other windowless location, behind locked doors. Such physical separation leaves little opportunity for spontaneous cross-departmental discussion.

“Career separation” also intrudes. LoB employees, regardless of department, are more likely to share educational and career experiences. Many have business degrees (a rarity in the IT ranks) or have taken courses that give them a broad view of how the business runs. They also are more likely than IT technicians to work in several functional departments during their careers (it’s less common to see a programmer who began in sales or an infrastructure engineer doing a stint in procurement).

Without a shared perspective, goals, or even workspace, IT can become insular, disconnected from the rest of the business. To LoB employees, it can appear that IT has no knowledge of or interest in the business as a whole; IT just wants to run IT.

But one important thing has changed in recent years. LoB employees are no longer intimidated by technology. As technology becomes more a part of everyone’s life, from smartphones to connected homes, simple user interfaces have made non-technical users feel comfortable selecting, installing, and managing their own technology. In the cloud era, this means that LoB employees feel empowered to make their own technology decisions and purchases, for themselves and for their departments. A recent Frost & Sullivan survey of large businesses revealed that a whopping 85% of LoB departments subscribe to non-approved cloud applications—deliberately circumventing the IT department. Among the top reasons: “IT approval processes are too slow or cumbersome” and “IT restrictions make it difficult to do my job.”

And by procuring technology services on their own from outside providers, LoB employees have learned that the processes don’t have to be painful. They have experienced technology nirvana: technology that is quickly available when needed, usage that is monitored and reported, costs that are tracked on a granular level. LoB has been spoiled by a true customer-service experience.

Is it any surprise that LoB employees don’t like you—and they will do whatever they can not to work with you?

The problem, of course, goes well beyond peace and harmony in the workplace. When LoB employees circumvent IT, the business is exposed to security risks, cost inefficiencies, and compliance challenges.

Understand that LoB managers don’t want to harm the business. They don’t even want to be in the technology procurement business. They just need access to the technology tools to do their jobs without hindrance.

So what is an IT department to do? The simplest way to protect the business (and your job) is to be what your LoB colleagues need. A business enabler, not a hurdle. A service provider, not an asset-manager. An organization that can confidently say, “yes, no problem,” not “take a number.”

That is the goal of IT as a Service (ITaaS). When the IT department transforms itself into a service provider, its focus shifts from taking care of things (servers, applications) to taking care of the business—and the LoB employees (as well as partners and customers) that keep it running. The technology component of ITaaS is a powerful infrastructure optimization and management platform called a Software-Defined Data Center.

But ITaaS is more than technology; it heralds a new business model that LoB departments will embrace. In addition to providing quick access to technology resources, ITaaS provides visibility into usage and costs. This enables LoB units to confidently measure the efficiency and the efficacy of their activities—critical to determining where to invest time and resources.

With ITaaS, the great divide between LoB and IT can finally be erased. This will facilitate smoother, more agile business operations. Not to mention a much more pleasant holiday party.

For more information on optimizing your business operations with ITaaS, check out our on-demand webcast, The Data Center Revolution: Making the Journey to IT as a Service with a Software-Defined Data Centers, or visit the VMware website.

Category : Cloud

Lynda Stadtmueller


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