We’ve had the opportunity to speak with CTO and senior IT leaders from across the globe. They don’t have an easy job, but it’s interesting that their challenges are so similar regardless of industry or organization type. What is really curious is that much of the stress they outline is often self-inflicted.
Technology has given senior IT leaders the ability to make or break companies. A poor deployment or customer-facing mishap can quickly become a death sentence. But, more often than not, these problems had their genesis long before they became apparent and the roots are embedded in the IT ecosystem that cultivates IT leadership.
Somewhere along the last several decades, IT decided that fire-fighting created occupational security. If the C-suite was consistently worried about something going wrong, then they were less likely to slash budgets or headcount in IT. Some of this came from a misguided worry that technology would render IT pros obsolete.
But, the smarter and more tenured CEOs noticed an obvious disconnect between IT and other important departments. The Risk Management folks placed insurance policies to protect the entity from visible or unforeseen problems. Human Resources was building programs to keep employees in place, reducing the cost of new hire acquisition. Most other departments were shifting to fire prevention. But, not IT.
IT continued the expensive process of pretending everything was fine, until it wasn’t. Then, they would swoop in with internal and external resources and “solve” the problem. This is the culture that many of today’s managers grew up in.
But, fire-fighting is really expensive. Lots of resources have to be deployed without warning. Because the actual cause of the fire might not be known, most fires are initially over-resourced. You have to send everything and everybody, just in case you need them.
So, IT managers don’t sleep at night because TONIGHT might be the night that another fire springs up. Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way. The really smart CTOs have shifted to fire prevention, using tools like AIMS for BizTalk to monitor their environments and alert the correct resources long before the smoke turns to flames.
Better still, the best of the best are focusing on monitoring tools that don’t depend on humans to “dial in” to their organization’s particularities, instead choosing tools that are self-learning. It’s easy to spot these folks, because they are well-rested and relaxed.
Getting to this new standard for IT isn’t difficult, but it does require a mental shift to prevention. With the smarter senior managers that we’ve spoken to, this frequently starts by ensuring that your teams know that they are expected to be proactive and that proactivity isn’t bad for employment security. The “insurance” within IT comes from fire prevention, especially when you can use a tool like AIMS for BizTalk to visualize successful prevention for departmental or senior stakeholders.
The new job security comes from being able to accept that things will go wrong, harnessing tools for early detection and systems for problem solving while being able to demonstrate all of this to managers and leaders who can’t or won’t understand message loads, throughput speeds or other common IT measures.
If you are an IT manager or aspire to be one, isn’t it time to get out in front of the problems and get some real sleep?