Was fortunate enough to be able to go to a dinner hosted by CBR last night, entitled “Spanning the IT/Business Divide”. It was being paid for by an SOA company, so there was a lot of talk about whether SOA does or does not help span the IT/Business Divide (conclusion – the name doesn’t help, because an SOA does not provide a “Service” in the way business people would understand).
More interesting was that the most provocative questions and issues, which provoked a full and frank exchange of views, came from a gentleman who used to be in IT but is now a buyer of software rather than a technologist. Sample question: “why should I invest an unknown $$$ value into an SOA architecture when I could instead, at a low, known cost hire some bodies to type information from one system to another”.
If your immediate response to that question is to get riled and believe that the questionner is stuck somewhere in the dark ages then you have fallen into the trap of perpetuating the IT/Business divide. Because I bet you, “The Business” is asking the same question. It is a serious question. IT departments need to be able to step this far back from their day to day operations to be able to challenge themselves and their futures with questions like this.
And then I was reminded of this post on Deal Architect I read a while back, in which Vinnie Marchandi intimates that the most important skill needed in IT departments is vendor management. IT directors need to address this challenge and justify why they (assuming they are technologists) are even there in the first place. Only then does the IT/Business divide stand a chance of being spanned.
p.s. Thanks to Jason Stamperer from CBR for running the event. And apologies for not having paid attention to the new layout of CBR magazine. Truth be told I have been a big fan of the magazine for a while now but now I think about it I haven’t seen a copy in a while.