Information Technology Management
IT to manage business by process
Information Management & Psychology
In one of my first participation to Information Technology Management seminars dedicated to Chief Information Officers (CIOs), two statements fixed my attention:
- " Information management is only 5% of technology, the rest is all about psychology."
- " Your job did not exist when you were born and probably will desappear before you will retire."
I was so impacted that I have dedicated the rest of my career learning psychology and searching my next job !
When you have some interest in Psychology applied to Business, the first name you should know is
Abraham H. Maslow and its pyramid of needs
When reading Maslow, some extravagant idea was arising in my mind. If Information Management is about Technology and Psychology, why not to analyse also the hierarchy of needs of a CIO using the same pyramidal model:
The physiological layer: IT Infrastructure & Operations
Don't try to sell to your boss a new application or a new service if your servers are down every week, the data network is not able to support all the traffic the business needs, or the end users wait hours & days for solving their IT incidents.
The safety layer: Information Security
Once the Infrastructure has been deployed and is working smoothly, the business requires its critical information to be secured. If the Information Technology or the IS procedures cannot provide the level of security required to manage electronically the information, be sure that the confidence in your information systems will be lost and other alternatives will be found (including for your position).
The social layer: Communications
In the business today, the response time of your Internet server or the easiness to contact with your technical support, can make consumers "loving" your products (and so "belonging" you as customers) or not.
And this layer does not cover only the customer front end but also the back office of your systems (Enterprise Resources Planning, for instance)and the way you open them to your providers through the use of standard protocols to exchange data.
If they can get your demand forecast automatically back in their own systems you will build a solid network of business partners willing to work with your company.
Esteem layer: Applications
In fact a lot of enterprises are performing well all the previous layers, without a named Chief Information Officer. With informatics skills distributed through the Departments it is possible to survive, with the help of some external consultancy. The risk is to develop an archipelago of information, with the sub consequent difficulties to get an integrated system.
The way an Enterprise manage this level of its Information System reveals the culture of the company:
- an individualistic (or departmental) behaviour will probably led to silos of information without difficulties to share it.
- on the other side, consideration and esteem for the rest of the company, will be reflected more and more in integrated information systems where information is available on an easy way to those who require it.
Integration means that your job depends on information that others have to provide to the system. A lot of integrated information systems implementation like ERPs (Enterprise Resources Planning) fail at this point as inter-dependency of the different Departments from each other has not been clearly explained and reviewed.
What is not in the system does not exist: be sure that all the users of your integrated system know this maxim. And explain them that not sharing information is a lack of respect of others and sometimes a criminal act (criminal in the sense that making the enterprise less competitive leads to cutting jobs at the end, and jobs means lives).
Top level: Business Process Management System
Do you know this kind of organization where the procedures are defined on one side (normally by Quality department). On other side, Information Systems are implemented on an integrated way with the state of the art technology. But when a process audit is performed, you discover three disconnected worlds:
- the official procedures
- the information system
- the real working life
The real added value ("self actualization" following the analogy with the Maslow's pyramid)of an Information System organization is the integration of these worlds, making the Business Rules, defined in the procedures applied in the daily execution of the business tasks.
To do that, current technology offers two ways:
- cabling business rules in the existing integrated systems: ERP, CRM...
- putting a user front end layer on top of the existing systems, to perform this integration: the Business Process Management Suite
Business Process Management is the point where the Information Technology Management transcends his technological nature and meet the Business needs and the Psychology of the organization.
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