It's not surprising, then, that many tech pros feel undervalued: Almost half the 2,647 people who responded to Network Computing's reader survey say their IT department doesn't get the respect it deserves within their companies. We hear a lot of high-level talk about CIOs having "a place at the table" and technology driving the business, but the men and women responsible for evaluating, deploying and managing IT are still excluded from business decision-making--at their companies' peril.
At Children's Hospital Boston, the subject of this issue's On Location case study, one network manager says he didn't receive any formal communications about the hospital's massive ERP project until Andersen consultants were ready to move in to the building--months after the executive committee had picked the key vendors (the IT department was barely involved in that decision). At Cole Tool & Die Co., a systems administrator laments that he can go weeks without hearing from his boss, the CFO. We hear similar tales of disenfranchisement from other readers.
Most often, IT gets blamed. Technologists, because they don't appreciate the bottom-line pressures on business initiatives, isolate themselves from the rest of the organization ... we're told. This criticism is often accurate, and technologists had better get some finance or business development chops if their aspirations go beyond the IT organization, but it's a two-way street.
Why is it taken as a fundamental truth that technologists must improve their business acumen, yet traditional business managers are rarely held accountable for their inability to communicate on technical matters? Senior executives pay lip service to the value of IT in driving their companies forward, but when it comes to understanding technology fundamentals, many throw up their hands or, worse, wear their illiteracy on their lapels like a badge of honor.