Terry White answered hawk questions

    One of the leading experts in IT management, the author of the book “What does the business want from IT?” Terry White answered questions from habrapuserov. Together with Mr. White and representatives of the Grevtsov Publisher Publishing House, we selected the most interesting questions asked in the comments on Habré.

    davojan : Have you had to solve the problem of lack of qualified personnel? If so, how did you do it?

    All IT companies are facing staff shortages. But it is important to distinguish two types of employees - 1) those who are versed in IT, 2) those who are versed in business, its goals and apply technologies to achieve business goals. Finding the first is difficult, the second is even more difficult.

    Many companies give contractors the solution to technological problems, leaving service management to themselves - and in this case, the company only needs an Operations Manager. The main thing that a business wants from an IT department is the implementation of IT functions without delay, involvement in business and leadership in their field. Doing it yourself is difficult, so companies often turn to third-party IT service providers and simply manage them.

    To find business professionals who are knowledgeable in IT, a company needs to have a quality program for finding and hiring people involved in the business. The management of the entrusted field of work assumes that IT-specialists were inspired by the general goals of the company and found out how high technology will help the whole company achieve these goals.

    Involvement in business and leadership are extremely important factors from a business point of view. And only the implementation of IT functions is important from a technology point of view.

    I have a concept for a wine glass. Imagine that he is forked. This is a career development model for IT professionals: after they go through the initial period of work in the field of technology, they need to choose whether to become IT experts or businessmen.

    mikhanoid : What should be the ideal operating system for a business?

    As always when answering such questions, I’ll say it depends on a lot. The company must choose the operating system and the set of software that is most appropriate for solving its problems. Factory, store, bank - all of them can use completely different software. In one case, it is important to conduct transactions, in the other - interaction with the buyer, etc.

    So when the issue of software is being decided, we always need to ask ourselves about the basis of the business. Will we have many transactions? A lot of buyers? How many employees? What is the geographical location of the branch network? How many changes in assortment will happen in a year? All these issues must be resolved before the software is selected. First of all, we need to solve the problems of business, not technology.

    mikhanoid: What office suite in the history of the existence of these packages is the most successful and why?

    I am not a fan of any particular integrated package. At one time, the company I worked for used three different software packages: one for the needs of an engineering company, another for the needs of our small companies scattered around the city, and another one for 17 of our hospitals.

    There is no perfect software package. The root of the problem is the difference between horizontal and vertical integration. If you use software that can do everything, it is by definition standardized, i.e. it will not let you solve any specific problems, but stably solve standard ones - this is horizontal integration. On the other hand, there is vertical integration — best-in-class systems that cope with specific tasks, but when the question arises about their integration with other systems, problems arise. The opposition of these approaches will exist forever.

    I believe that for non-core business operations it is worth using the most economical software package with the possibility of full horizontal integration. To solve basic problems, you should find the best software.

    tagire: What paths do you see for closer integration of IT and business in the field of web2.0 projects?

    I think Web 2.0 (or “interaction networks”) is one of the greatest accomplishments of recent times. The main question for business is how to use this achievement for your own purposes. A company should not make a site with an interaction system simply because it is “cool”, or because everyone does it. You should carefully study your goals and ask the question “How do we quickly achieve these goals when interacting with stakeholders?” Charles Handy identified a range of stakeholders: 1) shareholders, 2) employees, 3) consumers, 4) suppliers, 5 ) community; 6) environment. The business must ask, “Can we produce better products or services using the contributions of our customers or suppliers?”

    Web 2.0 is useless for business, as long as there is no reasonable reason to use the methods of Web 2.0.

    posya : According to the current trend (in particular, according to ITIL), the IT structure is often represented as internal outsourcing, with its leadership, tasks, and obligations to the business. As a result, it turns out as a separate organization in the organization. At the same time, in a large company, the time to make a decision and coordinate it with the business significantly increases (the path to IT management, coordination with the business, the way back). Sometimes it comes to the point of absurdity - to solve a serious problem you just need to restart the server, and the adoption of this solution (and its approval) can take hours! How can this be avoided without destroying the logic of interaction between IT and business?

    There is a “three-month project concept”. According to her, you agree with the main tasks and then thoroughly plan the next three months. Do your job and track performance. After three months, analyze all the accumulated experience and plan the next steps taking into account this experience. Usually this prevents a situation where people constantly argue about certain ultimate goals, and helps to focus on defining operational tasks, which, of course, must correspond to global, strategic goals.

    maniaque : What does the IT business in Russia want?

    I am not well acquainted with business in Russia. So the only way to find out is to ask a business! It would be nice to do a study on this topic.

    At the same time, I managed to identify three common “desires”. First of all, the business wants IT professionals to do their job without delay, so that the business does not have to think about it. Businessmen are well aware of how hard this work is, how much it can cost a company. But they, like you or me, are absolutely not interested in how the car’s engine is arranged (although ... I’m still a little interested), and absolutely not interested in dealing with IT issues. They just need it to work!

    Many businessmen told me that IT-specialists have unique knowledge in their field that could be used for business development. So no need to tell businessmen about the intricacies and complexity of the work; just explain what business results you should expect. And then give the business these results.

    And finally, the business expects IT leadership from IT - new products, new markets, new promotion channels. Technologies can open access to new markets, reach out to more potential consumers. Take a look at airlines: isn't their main business to fly? But they spend a lot of time and money on websites to make it easier for everyone to deal with the company. This is what IT leadership is.

    joint : “How do you assess the prospects for the Internet? Does it bother you that in the near future, the Internet may become controlled by state corporations that, through the network, will seek to manipulate the public’s consciousness in the same way that they do through television? Can the Internet become the next state monopoly?

    The Internet is one of the freest communication channels. Read “Wikinomics” or “The long tail” to understand how the business world is changing. Many of Adam Smith’s ideas may not be applicable at all if your business is based on the provision of services via electronic channels. If not yet, be sure to find out if these channels are possible to sell your product.

    I don’t know anything about the fact that the Internet can be controlled by state corporations. He is too mobile, volatile to become controlled. Of course, in some countries (China, Zimbabwe, Algeria, etc.) they are trying to do something, but it doesn’t work out very well. Just because a regular telephone line or satellite allows you to access everything in the world. If the state wants to become the only provider (and such attempts also take place), people will still find a way to circumvent restrictions.

    The problem with the Internet is still different - in addition to many good things, it also has a great many bad things. When traveling on the Internet, do not forget about your safety - in this case, the state may offer some protection. But it cannot make fools smarter, and smart ones dumber.

    nertz: What tasks should solve the information site (not an online store) of a manufacturing enterprise that is not directly related to IT? What does the studio making such a site cost to promise the customer, and why refuse flatly?

    Products and services are the simple answer. Many corporate sites contain information, reports - but do not provide any services at all. You need to determine the most important thing in the company and enable people to quickly get it. An online order form, product catalogs ... A lot of things you can think of. The main problem is high-quality integration with the Internet: people do not need an online order form if this order is not completed.

    nertz : What exactly are the theses that you should keep in mind when forming a ToR on the creation of a website designed to increase the profits of an enterprise?

    The main thing is to clearly understand why a company needs a website. It is necessary to understand whether a site can help business, make a profit. We need to work out a business model. Without understanding this, all the work to create a site is a waste of time.

    The most interesting thing in the network economy is that you can forget about local products and consumers. The Internet allows you to get to anywhere in the world. You can sell your product to someone in Kenya or Alaska - they too can see it.

    nukanukanuka : The expert’s opinion about the use of IT in enterprises with outdated technologies and the corresponding qualifications of staff (unfortunately there are many more in Russia) is interesting, especially taking into account the experience gained in South Africa. Thanks.

    I will say this: a successful company will succeed anyway, thanks to or in spite of technology. There is no clear correlation between the success of a company and the quality of its technologies. Management and employees make the company successful. There are banks that still use the systems developed in the 80s - and nothing: they put the “nice-looking” interface on top and work further, providing world-class services.

    twisterrrrr : Have IT management criteria changed dramatically in the last 10 years? What is the fundamental difference between “now” and “then”?

    10 years ago in the field of IT priorities were the development and implementation of new systems. Now IT is more than just a product. IT professionals are now more concerned about the effective use of their technology. In the West - an unprecedented growth in the field of distributed data processing. IT now consumes as much energy as airlines - about 20%. The main task now is to minimize costs using virtualization and much more, in fact everything is possible.

    twisterrrrr : Is the Russian information business far behind the West?

    I am sure that Russian companies are both behind and overtaking European ones. If they want to do business in the same way as all those Western corporations, then they are behind. If a Russian company creates rules for its successful work, then this is much more progressive. I am sure that Russian companies have a “fresh” view of the world and their place in it - and Russia may well become one of the leading countries in the business sphere. If you follow the experience of the West, then Russian companies will always be second. Set the rules for yourself; let nothing stop you.

    rossomachin : How did you overcome the inertia of your bosses?

    Bosses are often wrong. And often they refuse to listen to reasonable arguments.

    The most obvious way, of course, is communication, debate. Give your reasons - and listen carefully to the arguments of the opponent. If it doesn’t help, do this: draw a “relationship map”, showing on it the colleagues with whom you often communicate, and make the same “map” for the boss. If there are matches, communicate on the topic you need with these “matching contacts”. No need to complain - just tell them your opinion, and ideas will somehow reach the authorities.

    nafigator : What kind of education do you recommend people get for the most effective management of IT business in the future? Is fanaticism enough to create a successful business or without an appropriate education is a matter of luck alone?

    You need to fully study IT, IT management (design, finance, etc.), business management (marketing, sales, operations, HR, etc.) and business development issues.

    exdeniz : What should be prof. IT director skills other than management education?

    People skills and leadership skills. Working with people is by no means as simple as saying these words. You need to take special care of the goals and needs of people. If you are an IT director, you should talk with all the managers of the company and find out how personally you and IT can facilitate their work. The same is worth doing with your team. You need to communicate, be aware of everything that happens in the company. “Why did my company buy another?”, “Why are our stocks falling?”, Etc. The leader stands above the crowd, understands what is happening, and knows what needs to be done. You will not be taught this at school.

    nafigator : Please give me a couple of “golden tips” on time management.

    You need to decide why you are running out of time. Maybe you are trying to do everything at once? Or still succeed in the small? Read Tim Farris’s book Four Hour work week. He runs a successful company, travels the world, engages in several sports, and has many negotiations. He perfectly manages the team - lacks his staff, and they do not get it. And while he works 4 hours a week - from anywhere in the world.

    nafigator : What was the most effective way to motivate you to observe or use?

    You need to do what you really like. Even those things that you do not like go better if at least an hour a day you do what you love. Ideally, you need to understand how your favorite work will help work.

    Best regards, Terry White.

    Unfortunately, due to the busy schedule of his stay in Russia, Mr. White was only able to answer habra users' questions recently. Nevertheless, the authors of the most interesting questions of the book with an autograph of the author will definitely get it.

    Autographed by Mr. White, he invited David Galoyan to give davojan , Tagir tagire , nafigator and twisterrrrr the book “What the business wants from IT” autographed .

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