Two speed lanes of changes in modern IT (within Enterprises)

This blog post is about Enterprises whose core business is NOT IT, but they consider IT services as an important part of their everyday operations.

Large Enterprises in 2015 (at least in Europe) are pretty from what we remember from 2000, 2005, 2010. There are still some dinosaurs & they'll be here for a lot of time, but there are many companies who have realized that IT is changing rapidly world-wide & so they have to remain in the game: more & more embrace DevOps, Continuous Integration, TDD, OSS, predictive / real-time analysis & other modern practices. It happens in some companies I would never dare to suspect of it. And sometimes it's really impressive (both the scale & velocity of changes).

But the truth is that it's far, far easier to quickly adopt purely technical practices (even if they require serious cash investment) than make any kind of meaningful change in business <-> tech cooperation area.

Honestly, it's not that hard to ...

  • [A] set up a Hadoop cluster
  • [A] create an in-house mobile x-platform application
  • [A] use any of existing web frameworks to spawn another sexy SPA & deploy it on AWS
  • [A] manage your dynamic configuration with consensus system like etcd
  • [A] visualize information in real-time with library like D3

... but it's far, far more challenging to

  • [B] measure true effect of the development work on actual business (absolute & comparative measurements)
  • [B] validate change ideas in short, limited experiments (to check whether overall direction is fine before investing more)
  • [B] make an effort to understand the domain slightly more & meet half-way with business people to present them how technology may be useful for the business (by providing insights, ideas, PoCs)

And it's why usually things from the [A] list are not accompanied by stuff from [B] list.

As happen like nuts, Bs don't. At all.

From my observations - it's not that Bs fail, because they are done wrong, take too much time, give negative outputs. They just don't happen, no-one dares to really try or even if some try, they are not able to get necessary support within an organization.

And when all an Entprise does is As ... IT may do their work in a more & more efficient way, it may have better & better toys -> cool, shiny, but in the end - they are not more effective.

The value doesn't increase (appear?), smart people from the both sides of the barricade do not synergize. Technical excellence of crap is achieved, while everyone's interest is covered:

  1. IT does what it likes best - unquestioningly accepts anything that comes from up-stream, doesn't take the responsibility for anything out of their comfort zone & doesn't have to interfere much with all these crazy business people.
  2. Business people follow the minor risk, obvious paths when dealing with IT - the only one they can cover without the support of the other side. As compensation - they don't have to treat IT nerd squad seriously: they are not a partner with a shared goal, more like an additional cost to run the business - necessary, but with a meaningless impact on financial results.

Title pic: © Pink Badger - Fotolia.com