CEO: The new reality of IT lives outside IT


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Aaron Levie, the CEO of co-founder of — and a self-acknowledged purveyor of “shadow IT” — wrote a terrific post for the Fortune Tech blog on today: To save the IT department, blow up the IT department.

On a daily basis, a select group of individuals are making technology decisions on behalf of their entire organization. They’re implementing services to solve real business problems, sometimes under the guidance of their IT department, but most often on their own. For the first time, the power of technology decision-making is in the hands of those who will be using the solutions deployed. These are the managers, project leaders and knowledge workers responsible for getting work done — not just the IT administrators managing implementation or the executives writing the checks.

One of the tenets of Aaron’s article is that the adoption of technology is now often different from the buying of technology. Before, those used to be linked together under the complete control of the CIO. In the previous era, adoption often “happened grudgingly, after technology had already been forced on employees from the top-down.”

No longer.

When end user adoption precedes buying, it happens with purpose and even excitement. Users now have a much greater say in what technology they use, so much so that’s massively disruptive to the organization itself. There’s simply no way that IT administrators can get their proverbial arms around all the tools and services that individuals are bringing into the enterprise.

Aaron points out that IT and users often have opposing goals (I’ve made a similar argument in my post on why marketing and IT are diametrically opposed). He lists IT’s goals as:

  • implement the fewest solutions to solve the greatest number of problems
  • maintain complete control over technology and information
  • answer to expectations around cost and risk
  • deploy proven solutions

In contrast, users have goals such as:

  • use best-of-breed technology to solve problems
  • gain complete mobility and flexibility
  • answer to the productivity expectations of their manager(s)
  • move quickly by using the fastest, most intuitive new tools

“Although contradictory,” writes Aaron, “both sets of goals make perfect sense. IT should be responsible for information security. Knowledge workers must be asked to move quickly and stay productive. So how do we reconcile these seemingly disparate by equally valid needs?”

Part of his answer is that “the cloud changes everything.”

By democratizing adoption, the cloud changes everything about enterprise IT. It’s now the sales manager that implements for her team. It’s the developer that brings Amazon S3 into his toolkit. It’s the support representative that selects Zendesk as the simplest solution for her customer service team.

“With enterprise software finally starting to focus on the individual, and not just the IT buyer, we’re seeing dramatic changes in business productivity, speed of execution, and overall sentiment towards technology,” writes Aaron. “People are able to work much more quickly, access more information than ever before, and make decision in real-time that are backed by data — all leading to a more open, connected and collaborative work environment.”

He goes further though, claiming, “With the right solutions, even the IT professionals are happy — they’re finally able to get ahead of the game instead of always having to fight fires, solve problems, and answer to unhappy users.”

Definitely take time to read the entire article.

Thanks to marketing technologist Jay O’Hare for alerting me to this — great read!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Scott Brinker
Scott Brinker is the president & CTO of ion interactive, a leading provider of post-click marketing software and services. He writes the Conversion Science column on Search Engine Land and frequently speaks at industry events such as SMX, Pubcon and Search Insider Summit. He chairs the marketing track at the Semantic Technology Conference. He also writes a blog on marketing technology, Chief Marketing Technologist.


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