Tucked away in a corner of the Hitachi Data Systems distribution centre on the outskirts of Amsterdam sits Bob Plumridge. The Chief Technology Officer EMEA of HDS, he knows better than most how to traverse the barrier that separates the IT department and the boardroom – a barrier so often constructed through conflicted interests and miscommunication.
According to Plumridge, however, this previously strained relationship is changing. It's like Britain and France. We have finally come to an understanding. There will be antagonism and murder between us no more.
We are now moving into the era of "business defined IT" – but what is that?
"It's slightly historical in some contexts," explains Plumridge. "If you think back a few years to the way IT organisations and normal businesses used to work was that IT would have something available, like a database or an email system, and they'd go to the businessmen in the boardroom and say "we have this technology, what can you use it for?" Then, the business would go away and think about it.
So that's how things used to work: as new things came along, IT would offer it to the business, but now business is thinking of what it needs from IT, the demands coming from the other way."
The result is that rather than businesses responding to IT and shoehorning technology into their plan, they're now defining the IT that they implement. Plumridge highlights the cloud as an example where businesses are consulting IT and saying "we need a system that will do this," with the result of a product with more flexibility and tailoring to business needs.
"What this also does to IT," Plumridge adds, "is that it means they have to respond faster. If the competition gets there in one month there's more pressure for delivering services faster, so business and IT are going to need to work closer together. Businesses now need to tell IT what their roadmap is for the next few years so that IT can respond and innovate."
As such, the very structure of companies is beginning to change to make way for this new age of business defined IT. According to Plumridge, "In a lot of companies now the CIO reports at board level whereas before they operated much lower within the hierarchy. If someone turned off the whole IT department in Hitachi we'd be out of business in two weeks. They need to know what systems they'll be rolling out, integrating or developing."
Want to find out more? Check out the announcement that HDS have just released a bevy of products to facilitate this new, healthier relationships between IT and management.