Isn’t it time for IS to choose the IT

Imagine this: your company’s end users never determine technology choices for enterprise applications, processes and computing infrastructure. Instead it’s the IT expert who is always entrusted with the job of selecting hardware and software.

Imagine this, too: your company’s business executives are tasked to figure out how the greatest possible value can be achieved from information technology. To do so they must figure out how the business can continually be improved and changed for the better through the use of IT. In fact, any bonuses in salary that might be available to them are contingent upon the success of their IT-based projects.

What a wonderful world it would be — a sort of alternate universe to reality, which is that IS has the job to both rationalize and figure out the return on IT investment.

While it may seem unbelievable, there are companies in the world that live by the adage that IS knows best when it comes to IT.

It’s the way things are done at network equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc., as was learned during a during a recent ITWorldCanada-hosted Frankly Speaking breakfast in Toronto.

First and foremost, there’s a need to continually drive high productivity through the use of IT, said Brad Boston, Cisco’s CIO. Cisco’s investments in technology always focus on what IT can to do meet this imperative. There’s a core belief at Cisco that IT is the catalyst to improving the business.

Boston related the story of how the worldwide vice-president of Cisco’s sales was once asked how he might improve the company’s ability to capture greater market share.

“Hire more sales professionals,” was the VP’s obvious response, Boston recalled. The story goes that the suggestion was harshly shot down and the VP was instead directed to figure out how the use of Cisco’s existing IT could achieve the same result.

What was surely refreshing to hear, in the minds of many assembled CIOs, was that IT choices within mighty Cisco are based upon what’s determined by the company’s IS organization and that this group is best suited to the task.

And doesn’t that make a whole lot of sense? Shouldn’t it be pretty obvious to any business that those responsible for implementing and managing IT should also be those who are responsible for choosing the infrastructure and application types used? That a company such as Cisco, a leader in the utilization of IT to maximize its business productivity, adheres to such a philosophy certainly gives strong weight to the credibility and good sense of the idea.

Imagine that!

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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