How much does IT need to know about the specific way their employer conducts business when competing in their industry? Again from experience, I suggest that very little or no such knowledge is needed going into a project. The cliché that “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” applies here. If IT people know too much about the current business, they may be unconsciously constrained when devising new IT solutions by ‘the way things have always been done here.’ In extreme cases, this can lead to an IT staffer having the delusional belief that they know more about the business than the systems users and their management.
Do not fall victim to this belief. IT is about underlying hardware and infrastructure, and the information systems that run on them. The systems’ users and their management — supported by all the strategies, policies, procedures and rules that define and control the business — will know the specifics of their business better than IT; their jobs depend on it.
This is not to imply that all business users & management are omniscient, or that all businesses operate without duplications or errors, or that there are not things the business doesn’t know yet. In fact, effective use of IT can address many such issues in the operation of a business, but IT and IT people do this in support of the business; IT does not define the business.
So, know your business in order to support your business.