Why do IT people not like corporate social networks?


    IT employees love financial systems, enterprise management systems, SAP, large deployments, backup data centers. But if your discussion of a corporate social network begins with an IT person, then it is very likely that it will immediately end on it . Why?

    I see several reasons that I have combined in three categories - "system administrator", "financier" and "principality".

    "Sysadmin." I quote Alex Exler: “ Everything should work for a good system administrator so that his intervention is not required. If the admin has work, then the grid does not work. If the grid works, then the system administrator has no work, and he is a good system administrator. They pay him money for the grid to work. And if the grid works, then he has nothing to do". I apologize if I touched someone with the word "system administrator", this is not the case. And the fact that the new IT system is new problems with technical support. The new platform requires new competencies, and the IT service immediately leaves the “comfort zone”. And if the system is provided from the cloud, then these updates are not once every three years, but generally continuous. Do not know when the hard will bring.

    "Financier". It so happened historically that often IT directors report directly to financial directors in large organizations. Perhaps, because there was no yet developed institute of strategic management, or maybe the generals did not want to deal directly with information technology, or maybe because the main IT project is the implementation of the ERP system, and the financial director is its main customer. And so IT directors are starting to act like financial directors of IT enterprises. They get an order from the CFO to reduce IT costs ... and the rest of the work is bidding on the price. Selling the business value of new systems from the IT department towards management does not occur, since it conflicts with the task from the immediate supervisor. Classic example: an attempt to exclude Microsoft Office from the license agreement with Microsoft, since it is about 45% of the price of the entire agreement. This is the thing! What other corporate social network can we talk about? This is generally uninteresting. And if you insist - go on, calculate the ROI.

    "Principality". IT directors do not like to let their counterparts go into business and let the decision-making process go by itself. I quote Vladimir Ananyin : “An IT professional and a business look at the same subject, but they see completely different things in it. Business executives have a good understanding of how their business generates profits and a poor understanding of what to expect from IT other than costs and risks. "The IT employee understands how their IT functions, but poorly understands how they can help businesses make a profit ." Therefore, IT directors fear that you will sell the idea to a business that does not understand IT, and the business will come to them and ask them to do something unintelligible.

    In addition to misunderstanding on the part of the business, there are still reasons for isolation that lie in the technological plane. In past projects, the IT department has grown and gained competencies, perhaps there is already a ready-made development team. This is an asset of the IT department and a liability that must be loaded with work. So you need to support the team and continue to develop the old platform. For example, write an enterprise social network from scratch on SharePoint. From the point of view of the domestic kitchen - it’s more profitable.

    It may get to the point that IT workers will try to crush the corporate social network. Here is an example from National Australia Bank (watch from 8:30). He is interesting in that he won the corporate social network, which still works in the bank.

    But IT employees are needed! Who will help make the pilot? Who will support the unfortunate users? Who will allocate IT resources to support the system?

    What to do?

    First, show respect for people, do not talk to them about the clouds!

    Report to IT employees that their familiar systems will not go anywhere. That the new system will be integrated into the current IT landscape (this is exactly so, because nobody needs a corporate social network in a vacuum). Therefore, an instant change of competencies is not required, they can be gradually increased.

    If you were asked to do an ROI, try. But then you have the opportunity to go to the financial director. Well, who else but he can allocate the right budget? How to convince a CFO is another story. An interesting example on this topic was given by colleagues from the representative office of Jive Software . Their client was replaced by a financial director, and the new one was against Jive and did not want to renew the subscription. Then his colleagues invited him to find several emails that they sent him. The average search time for each letter was 7 minutes. This was enough to solve the issue in favor of Jive.

    It’s not easy to make a decision if IT employees do not let you into business. Should I go to the heads of business units? Perhaps it’s worth it, but there is a risk that the business will return you back for a budget that IT employees will not give. They have already warned you.

    If all else fails, take it philosophically. It may be good that problems arose immediately, and not during the implementation of the project, when IT specialists would put sticks in the wheels of a corporate social network that had not yet started.

    By the way, the IT department itself can use the corporate social network. For example, to create a single window of technical support. They will be able to offload the second line of technical support, because users will be able to help each other. The coordination mechanism will improve when solving complex technical issues. For example, as Sberbank did in due time .


    If you read up to this point, you might think that the author is dismissive of IT people. Not at all, they are wonderful people, and I love them! But, if you look at the antipodes of the above three categories, you will get a typical entrepreneur who 1) does not concentrate on the administration level, 2) sees opportunities at first, and then costs them, and 3) is open to dialogue. How suitable is the definition of “entrepreneur” for an IT director? Judge for yourself. I believe that the best IT employees are entrepreneurs. And Terry White supports me.

    In conclusion, I’ll give an example of IT employees, whom I am proud of. When one of the largest Russian coal companies organized a common IT service center for their enterprises, they created their corporate social network. According to the IT director, the organization’s social network is like raw matches, they themselves will go out, but they allow you to maintain fire. They used a corporate social network so that the local business initiative did not fade, but received informational and emotional support from the center. Because the IT team was essentially engaged in business transformation. Nice to deal with such people!

    Vladimir Ivanitsa


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