The IT Effectiveness CHASM — Corrolary to Rules 1 – 3

Last week, I taught a class titled, “How to Cut Your IT Cost and Increase Effectiveness.”
At the beginning of the class, I thought it would be interesting to learn what the attendees thought “Effectiveness” was. I didn’t realize that I had both IT professionals and non-IT business professionals in the class, but I did.
The fascinating thing was that the IT professionals thougth that effectiveness equalled uptime, bandwidth, reliability, and other system performance metrics. The business people thought that effectiveness meant profit, productivity, and efficiency.
Their couldn’t have been a wider gap between the opinions. It made me realize that this is not just a gap, it’s a chasm. The cultures of business and the culture of IT are completely different. The values and objectives are different. Moreover, they are potentially in conflict.
Suppose that you could trade 1 random hour per day of system down time for $1 million more profit on the bottom line. Would you?
That’s a bit extreme. Suppose you could trade a new copy of the latest version of Office for a half-day of training on how to use your order entry system better? Would you?
Focusing on the IT objectives the attendees in my class gave certainly isn’t bad. Neither is a new copy of Office. But they are not directly related to the most important goal of the business, either: to make a profit.
That’s the chasm: IT effectiveness is not defined in terms of business effectiveness.