About this Blook

by admin on May 16, 2010

This what?

This is a blook — part blog, part book.  It is the approach I have elected to take to produce this first edition of a book I have been endeavoring to find time to write for some time now, entitled Making IT Matter

While it pleases me to say that the 15 or so titles that I have written in the business computing space to date have been used by tens of thousands of planners to develop their own business IT strategies, I can’t help but feel that their reach has been limited by the delivery method.  With the rise of blogging and of epub standards for electronic books, I think that a new delivery method is appropriate for a book like this one.

Making IT Matter is a project that seeks to distill my lengthy career in business information processing and management into a coherent answer to the thesis advanced a few years back that questioned the intrinsic value of IT to business organizations.  The title of that book was a question:  Does IT Matter?  The author of that book (which became a long time New York Times bestseller) made a compelling case, at least to business managers, that it didn’t.  In the process, he raised the ire of hundreds of thousands of IT professionals (including me) who had spent the better part of their adult lives working to ensure that their efforts mattered significantly to the businesses they served.

I remember thinking at the time that the author was using an old sophist ploy by framing his discussion with the wrong question:  Does IT matter?  My knee jerk reaction:  Of course IT matters.  What a dumb question! 

The better question, and one that needed be asked loudly and often, was how we could make it matter more.  How do we ensure that information technology delivers the full range of business value — defined these days in terms of cost-containment, risk reduction and top line growth or improved productivity — that business managers were promised when data processing gained its first footholds in their world in the 1960s. 

Truth be told, I began my career in business IT a couple of decades after technology had made its initial business inroads.  Over a period of 25 years, it had been my pleasure to help companies design, develop and validate their business IT strategies, systems and applications — first as a staff member or manager, then later as a consultant or adviser.   However, when Mr. Carr’s book was published to such great reception, it provoked a proverbial gut check.  I began to examine contemporary business IT in a more critical way.  What I found concerned me deeply.

In nearly every firm I visit today, I find that a huge schism that has been allowed to develop between the Front Office (where senior management works) and the Back Office (where IT lives).  A combination of factors have contributed to disparaging perceptions of each group by the other.  In a few cases, this perception has devolved into mistrust and even anger.   Most certainly, it bodes ill for the success of businesses themselves going forward.

How do we heal the rift?  I have some ideas — some business-oriented, others technical in their focus — that I have gleaned from my experience and from long interviews with Front and Back Office operatives.  That research provides the essence of this book. 

However, I do not claim to have a lock on all of the answers.  I am sure that other folks could bring insights born of their experience to this discussion as well.  That’s were a “blook” format could be useful:  it lets you, the reader, contribute what you wish to share.

So, over the next few months, I will put chapters of my own writing into tabs at the top of this page, and I invite you, the reader, to contribute your own commentary and perspective whether to compliment or challenge my point of view.  Your comments will remain embedded in each chapter tab provided they are factually accurate, coherently expressed and civil in tone.  

One last thing, to post a comment you must first register.  That’s how it is done on most blogs, mainly to keep out the spammers and other riff-raff. 

My promise to the reader is to do my best to provide a full accounting of my thoughts, observations, reportage and experience to help in whatever way I can to make sense of the clutter of information you are receiving in the trade press, in vendor marketing, and in the seminars and conferences presented by organizations seeking to grow their dues-paying membership, or by consultants seeking to sell their services, or by vendors trying to sell services.  I am not selling anything at all — not even a hardcover book at this point.  Consider it my effort to go green.

Welcome to this blook:  Making IT Matter.  My name is Jon Toigo.