Business-Savvy IT? Or IT-Savvy Business?


Larry Bonfante has a good take on why CIOs need to be business people first, and technologists second.

I'm with him--and so are many, many others.

There's a flip-side to the whole argument about CIOs needing to be more business-savvy: If that is, in fact, the case, then shouldn't the business strive to become more tech-savvy?

The simple answer is, no. And yes.

IT pros--especially CIOs and their top deputies--have a unique eye into and across the business. The more they understand the business, the more they can use IT to enable it. And that, of course, is their key objective.

On the other hand, business leaders have other priorities. Getting to know IT to its roots just isn't feasible (though many executives have tried harder than others to understand IT's reach and possibilities).

But part of the blame for business leaders lacking IT-savvy rests on IT leaders themselves. FedEx CIO Rob Carter has an interesting take on this:

"For too long, we've made what we do too mysterious--taking a 'pay no attention to the technical folks behind the curtain' approach. In my mind, that's a recipe for misunderstanding and lack of clarity."

He continues:

"Most of the misunderstandings occur around, 'Why does it take so long?' and 'Why does it cost so much?' Those questions are best answered by a thorough understanding of what's really going on back there. It's not a mysterious set of activities; hopefully, it's a well-planned-out and orchestrated set of deliverables that look very much like building a home or a stadium."

What do you think? Should business leaders be more IT-savvy? And if so, what are you doing to help them understand IT?


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