People who work in IT grow accustomed to living under siege -- everyone wants everything at once, resources always fall short, priorities conflict, that kind of thing. But it's gotten worse: Today IT is in danger of being marginalized, consigned to keeping boring legacy systems running.
What's changed? In many businesses, there's a growing realization that to stay competitive, you need to deploy all kinds Web and mobile applications for customers and see what sticks. This has created unprecedented pressure to build, build, build. And if IT responds the old-fashioned way, demanding stakeholders document every last requirement and get in the queue, those stakeholders have new alternatives: SaaS applications, cheap mobile apps, hotshot agile dev firms, and so on.
How does IT not just avoid slipping into irrelevance, but also lead the way in addressing new challenges? Sven Gerjets is one IT exec who has gone to extraordinary lengths to help business set the agenda rather than play defense. As senior vice president of IT solutions delivery for DirecTV, he and his cohorts have given real meaning to the cliché term "agility" and have achieved a surprisingly deep level of integration with the business.
In fact, when I interviewed Gerjets last week, it struck me that he was presenting a classic case of how good IT practice and good business practice can become almost indistinguishable. At DirecTV, IT's support of business goes beyond building solutions on demand to helping the business determine where it wants to go. Here are a few insights from the DirecTV example you may find useful:
1. Collaborate from end to end
Some IT organizations set themselves up almost as a separate business from the rest of the company. Best case, they clearly delineate the processes required for the business to get projects done and build solutions as efficiently as possible -- but that doesn't prevent solutions that were wrongheaded from the start from being built.