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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How to Tap IT's Hidden Potential

Note: I originally wrote this post weeks ago. Doing housecleaning this morning turned it up. I think it says something important so I punched it up a little and pulled the trigger. I hope you agree.

How to Tap IT's Hidden Potential A really bad title for a decent article in the Wall Street Journal. If you know a CEO - send them this link.

"CEOs who use obsolete metrics such as head count or benchmarking the competition to decide on the role and evaluate the performance of IT in their companies run the risk of being blindsided by competitors who take full advantage of IT innovations. Furthermore, IT is key to a company's ability to satisfy regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act on corporate governance, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and legislation in various states on the privacy of customer information."
Preaching to the choir. I'm fortunate in my case to work for a company where our CIO has both a head for business and an understanding and interest in tech. Our CEO also seems to get the importance of that balance, and the amazing benefit of leveraging good technology. In some cases this mix only effects the employees and the shareholders. In others it can have much greater impact. Government and health care come quickly to mind.

Was a time when good IT basically meant the bills were paid on time. As time has marched on poor IT management has the potential to run entire governments or their large projects into the ground. Imagine a non-working public transit project in NYC or a miscount on an election that would result in a bond issue to fund a public water project in LA.

It frightens me to also say it, but there are actually hospitals where this isn't understood. Imagine a hospital with a non-working telephone system. Or the ability to track which patients got which medication or even if they have received their meals. Management decisions that were once simple cost cutting moves, to cut training, service contracts, or staff and training in the IT department have these type of effects in today's technology environment. In fact I worked in such an environment for a while. Recent events remind me how fast our lives and the organizations we work for can change. One person, can make all the difference.

I, like most, have seen single management changes destroy a once great organization - then another change bring it back like the much lauded phoenix from the fire. But what most don't see is that one person - even in a large group can change the history of an organization and even effect lives and communities. I've seen one poison front line employee bring sourness and anger into a big business and I've seen the departure of one key person in IT take the forward momentum of nearly all that organizations projects when he left. Don't underestimate your importance where you work. Especially if you are in a support role like IT or Engeneering or Finance. And please, if you find yourself with management or administrative responsibilities - listen to your staff and move with care.

Counting my blessings...

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