The easy part -- well, it's not easy but it requires only a change in attitude -- to succeeding in that job is to partner with the business and understand where it wants to go. It's hard to help anyone get anywhere these days unless you understand his or her strategy. You certainly can't align your technology strategy to meet the business's need if you have no idea what that need is.
Once you understand the business's strategy and where it wants to go, the hard work has to start. But most people try to take the easy way out. They start looking at technology because it can help people get somewhere, but no one bothers to make sure it's the right destination.
The business couldn't care less what technology you're using. Yes, businesspeople have spent the last few years learning about technology, and they're happy to argue tech with you -- but the truth is that they don't care. They spent the time learning tech because IT couldn't be bothered but they had stuff they wanted to get done. Is it any wonder they still talk about the best way to lay out a database, provision memory to a virtual machine, or ask for a specific networking technology in a project?
The same applies your customers and employees. They couldn't care whether their data is cloud-enabled or whether you control things from on premises or off. They're just looking to be enabled so that they can get their work done or buy your product; they aren't looking behind the curtain.
The big secret to enabling enterprises or customers is quite simple: Stop worrying about whether you can enable mobile with a cloud (you can) or whether you can use a Hadoop cluster to parse big data (you can do that, too).
Instead, start looking to build a stable of capabilities and, from there, architectures. You may have three, four, or five types of cloud. They may be IaaS, SaaS, or PaaS; they could be public, private, or hybrid. The real question is what are the capabilities you can provide with these tools. It's how you put them together to enable your users to get their work done and the business to get where it's going. You're going to add security pieces to the stable and undoubtedly will use APIs. It's how you assemble the technology horses that will determine if you are successful and how quickly you can get it done.
IT is successful when it concentrates on building the stable of horses it needs. Too often today, IT buys the hyped thoroughbred that can win the Triple Crown when the business really needed a few workhorses to plow the fields.
This article, "The secret to IT business success: Stop focusing on the tech," originally appeared at A Screw's Loose and is republished at InfoWorld.com with permission (© Brian Katz). Read more of Brian Katz's The Squeaky Wheel blog at InfoWorld.com or at A Screw's Loose. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.