Should IT Play for Food – Gartner Blogs

Posted on 01 March 2011

The Hub Commentary_

Absolutely!  This is the crux of the problem with IT today and why it is “IT and Business” rather than I sell insurance.  I jumped the fence many years ago for this very reason and I developed and delivered an executive information system that reported on revenues, so I couldn’t have been closer to the business if I tried, but still felt a million miles away.  I started out life working for an outsourcer before going internal IT and thus I likely had a tainted view.

When you develop, deliver and support technology based upon the market and your customer needs, constantly evaluating what the competition is doing and learning more about your customer’s business than your customer has, it brings a whole different perspective.

One day at a conference I spoke on the topic.  An audience member came to speak to me afterwards and said his IT had no relevance to his company.  I knew nothing more than the name of his company and that it was a candy manufacturer, so manufacturing.  I asked only 3 questions and had him understanding business value in under 5 minutes.  First, does IT have any hand in the automation of the manufacturing line (the heart of the business), not really an IT function.  Ok, next question, I suspect you have an ERP system, why Yes we do, xyz system.  Ok, I suspect sales, distribution and customer service play an important role.  He was now standing up straighter.  Well, uh yes.

In the fall of 1999 Hershey took a gamble on a new CRM and ERP system just before Halloween and learned the market will go to a different drug store to buy a brand of tooth paste, but when we want chocolate, we buy what is on the shelf and found themselves on the front page of the Wallstreet Journal.  Long story short, they missed the biggest selling season, Halloween, then Christmas, Valentines and most of Easter before the systems were up, running and integrated as designed.  Now he was standing tall.  Maybe IT is important and has impact on sales, revenue and growth.

Sometimes we get too close to our business to see the trees for the forest.  So while some bash the vendors, we work for food and we have to understand your business when you don’t and help you see it in order to see a business case for automation that can help you drive growth, so we aren’t all bad.  🙂  I cannot count the number of times I have helped an IT team build a business case as a former analyst, where if they understood their own business it would be easy.

This year it is an imperative to make this shift with the service provider explosion.  I challenge you to work for food!

Do you work for food or just operate?



Wednesday’s post discussed the difference between people playing for food or playing for fun. The analogy applies to the difference between pro-athletes who play for food and college athletes and others who play more for fun. The idea expressed in that post was that food and fun are part of the IT/Business context.  (Read Full Article…)

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