As its name suggests, the magazine was all about the management aspects of an IT manager’s or CIO’s job. There’s lots of stuff we can read about the technology, but not nearly so much about other aspects of the information professional’s life.
That is still the case today. In this twice weekly column in iTWire I will look at how the evolution in information and communication technology is changing the way we live our business and our personal lives. In the digital age, the distinction between the two is becoming blurred.
Shortly after we started MIS magazine we held a conference for our readers. No vendors or consultants allowed – you had to be a practicing IT management professional to attend. We asked our readers what sort of focus they wanted for the conference.
“Aligning IT and management”, or variants on that theme, most of them said. We ran the conference on that subject, very successfully, and next year we asked them again what the conference should be about. We got the same response - aligning IT and management.
Then ten years ago I was asked to speak at someone else’s IT manager conference. I asked the organisers what the theme was. “Aligning IT and management,” they said.
That is the Holy Grail of IT management. The technology is only a tool to help the organisation do whatever it does, be it making widgets or importing wine or running a penal system. Getting that technology optimised to assist the organisation achieve its goals is what it’s all about.
The job of IT manager is one of the most multidisciplinary in the business world. Successful practitioners must have solid technical skills and experience, and they need to be both literate and numerate, to a high degree, They need good interpersonal and communications capabilities. And be possessed of all the normal people management skills as well.
In the second decade of the digital millennium, technology has caused major social changes. The Internet has evolved into a giant information machine. It is a giant repository of content and of applications.
Ad hoc search is replacing indexing. Video is supplanting text. Data – and information – are becoming increasingly unstructured. The social media revolution is starting to have significant effect on businesses. Data is becoming democratised, and cloud computing means it can be located anywhere.
At the same time, the range of times and places we can access this vast array of information is increasing. Tablet computers and smart phones have changed the definition of just what a computer is – and what a computer network is.
This is greatly affecting our personal lives, and it is overflowing into the business world in a big way. IT departments are having to manage a flood of internet terminals supplied by users – so-called bring-your-own-device computing – in a major reversal of the previous computing paradigm, where technology and ideas started in corporate computing before moving to individuals.
These and other changes are challenging traditional ideas on IT management. But they are not changing its ethos. IT management is still about aligning technology with the needs of the organisation. How to best do that will be the theme of this column.