IT, in all its glory, has grown into an over-sized juggernaut. Its increasing complexity and lack of agility is slowing down corporations to the rate where, in my experience, workers are spending almost half of their time just trying to administer the system – rather than solve problems, get stuff done and be productive.
How did IT mange to grow from such a blessing to such a torment in just a few decades? In my opinion it was because companies divided into two – the people building the organism connecting the company with its customers – and the people engineering the system enabling the blood to flow.
With time the power relationship changed: From the organism controlling the blood flow to the blood flow setting the premise for the organism. (see references below)
Now we are entering an era where customers are becoming strategically important assets – and we are about to make the same mistakes all over again.. Appointing Chief Customer Officers when the priority of the customer should be the responsibility of everyone in the organization – not just one person.
The problem here is efficiency and standardization: The current model of management is designed to keep things as simple and controllable as possible – but this means delegating for immediate efficiency (creating silos) rather than long term redesign to fit changes in the market. (video: http://youtu.be/GCPvnXUVteA?t=4m32s)
Companies used to have Chief Electricity officers (that sounds silly now, right?), today we have Chief Technology officers and there is a growing trend to have Chief Digital and Chief Customer Officers.
But, one of the things the CTO has shown us is that if a certain type of knowledge and power gets concentrated on to few hands it eventually will satellite out. And, might create a strategic initiative not neessarily having the same obejctives or incentives as the company at large.
The Chief Customer Officer might be a completely different ballgame, but we still need the reminder. Seeing how Customer Experience gets operationalized and turned from strategic initiative into user experience or usability pushes me to voice my opinion on this.
Don’t silo the customer!
Reference reading on the challenges with IT:
For years digitization has meant making carbon copies of old technologies (letters, telephone conversations, brochures etc.). MIT Sloan even stated this trend as one of the biggest challenges of investments in technology (2013).
“Companies routinely invest in technology, and too often feel they get routine results. Technology’s promise is not simply to automate processes, but to open routes to new ways of doing business.”
Wired Magazine painted an even darker picture. In an article exploring how the British Government could mass such an amount of expenses on something as straight forward (that should be straight forward) as IT:
“Each cabinet office PC costs UK taxpayers £7,000 a year. Why?”