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Comment A CIO's Perspective (Score 2, Interesting) 591

Having been the Chief Information Officer for a couple of companies that you've heard of, I couldn't resist weighing in on this topic.

First, the reason that IT organizations typically don't like technical folks outside of IT developing their own internal business apps, building their own infrastructure, or buying their own gear is pretty simple: we're the ones generally charged with ensuring predictability and security in the corporate infrastructure and we lose the ability to mitigate risk and provide reasonable levels of support with each bit of control that we give up. It's the same reason that the Legal department doesn't let you write your own contracts and why the Finance/Accounting department doesn't let you make journal entries.

I can't tell you how many applications, systems, and servers that my respective IT departments have had to inherit because the well-meaning business employee who developed or setup the system had either lost interest or moved on. When this happens we find that nobody left in the department knows anything about what is inevitably deemed a "critical app" by the department head (and is usually running on a server under a desk in a vacant cubicle). This scenario also applies to self-setup infrastructure of all kinds -- We regularly find rouge wireless access points, PCs and laptops bought and 'expensed,' application-ready mobile phones attempting to attach to our network and on and on.

The only way to deal with an increasingly technology saavy workforce wanting to do their own thing, in my opinion, is for IT to set clear policies and processes that allow for a certain amount of 'self help' but only within the guidelines of an IT ecosystem-friendly arrangement. We need to know about hardware and software you buy or make and we need to know where these systems and sub-systems reside, what data is on them, how that data is protected, who has access, and who is responsinble for maintaining them. In this day of increasing scrutiny (SarBox, etc), its more important than ever that we maintain some level of control.

Aside from all this ranting, I'll say that IT Leaders who do not realize that they are service providers at the end of the day are doomed to be loathed by business users. CIOs who stand fast with their arms crossed saying "no" to everything are obviously not familiar with the way a service organization is run. Unless a service-oriented culture is fosted from the top of IT, things will never change in your organization. The most successful CIOs that I know spend a lot of time with business department heads ensuring synchronization of priorities while also instilling in their IT employees a sense that proper, measurable internal customer sat is a standard part of doing business. Take to your CIO to lunch if possible and talk about this. I think you'll very quickly be able to tell if you have any hope of a culture shift.

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