RESEARCH & RESOURCES

The New IT: Dyché Outlines 6 Archetypes

Business and IT are gaining newfound respect for one another.

As vice president of best practices with SAS Institute Inc., Jill Dyché is nothing less than the E.F. Hutton of business intelligence (BI) and data warehousing (DW).

Folks of a certain age will remember that when the titular E.F. Hutton spoke, people listened.

Ditto for Dyché, who cut her teeth as one of Teradata Corp.'s first 100 employees in the early 1980s and (along with industry luminary Evan Levy) later helped found the former Baseline Consulting Inc. In her latest book, The New IT>, Dyché argues that the context in which business buys, manages, and understands IT is changing. The upshot is that the IT of today finds itself slotting into one of six "archetypes" (as Dyché calls them) -- from IT as "broker" to IT as "order taker" to IT as "custodian." In the process, both business and IT are gaining newfound respect for one another, she says.

"Enterprise IT has been such a big, heavy-legged, bureaucratic organization for so long now, and in the last four to five years we saw some executives lifting their heads and saying, 'Why not us? Why don't we own our own technologies?'" Dyché explains, noting that this trend -- which she links with that of Shadow IT -- has been a learning experience for both business and IT.

"There's this backlash to Shadow IT where departments who wanted to own their technologies are saying, 'I want to own the front-end, but I don't want to own the platform.' They're actually giving part of Shadow IT back to IT, which has been interesting to watch," Dyché continues.

"Now that leaders and vice presidents have run their own technologies for a couple of years, they're becoming more sober about the realities. They want their people actually doing the work, they don't want them managing a server with CRM on it. They need them to run campaigns."

The six IT archetypes, according to Dyché, are:

Tactical: She likens this to IT's traditional role of "keeping the lights on." As Dyché writes, "You know when your organization fits the Tactical archetype. Conversations with senior executives and peers consistently involve outages, uptimes, and upgrades. You are sought out not for input on business issues but on operations, automation, and cost."

Order taking: IT in this role focuses on managing and delivering new projects or releases. Best case, says Dyché, "requests for IT resources are guided by an overarching mission that is represented by isolated business requests and fulfilled according." Worst case, she explains, order taking "marginalizes IT. The requestors not only tell IT what they need but often how to deliver it."

Aligning: "Aligned" IT organizations create formalized business-facing IT roles, such as line-of-business CIOs. They tend to manage requirements and development pipelines separately for each business unit, but also situate them in the context of a central IT road map. Elsewhere, they support IT "SWAT" teams (i.e., dedicated IT organizations within the line of business), among other activities.

Data provisioning: IT becomes obsessively compulsive about data -- and this isn't a bad thing! Some organizations, Dyché writes, "are starting to model their organizations around the ability to inventory, access, annotate, regulate, correct, integrate, validate, test, and deploy company data." Data-centric systems, apps, tools, and skills are identified as core to IT's mission. IT's broader operational responsibilities, on the other hand, "are gradually outsourced."

Broker: IT in this scheme is a facilitator, owning some projects, outsourcing others, but -- in every case -- making stuff happen. In most cases, IT owns its competencies: the things it's best at. "IT groups in brokering mode apply not only a deep understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses but also their superior relationship-building skills to cultivate collaborate partnerships."

IT everywhere: IT wears many archetypal hats. It's both order taker and broker. It might dabble with data provisioning. "With IT Everywhere, IT becomes a thin layer of program oversight that monitors progress, reports on delivery, and projects future demand," she writes.

There's no right or wrong here, Dyché stresses. Different archetypes will work best in different organizations. Take IT in its "Tactical" mode, which -- at first glance -- seems so unsexy.

"Being tactical should not be dismissed as an anachronistic model responsible for the widespread disaffection with IT," Dyché writes, noting that running an IT organization in the tactical mode can likewise be a springboard to bigger and better things. "Many large telecommunications companies and banks have thrived for decades in this model," she points out.

Businesses who embrace the New IT also develop a more pragmatic -- or more responsible -- understanding of outsourcing, according to Dyché. "Bad-faith" outsourcing horror stories abound. By bad faith is meant a kind of knowing self-deception. A textbook example of this occurred back in 2004, when network telco giant Sprint notched a mega-outsourcing arrangement with IBM Global Services (IGS). At the time, CIO Michael Stout famously claimed that IT wasn't one of Sprint's core competencies. What ended up happening was that many of Sprint's in-house IT pros -- some 1,000 of between 1,400 and 1,600 employees -- transferred over to IGS, where they effectively carried on as before. Until early 2006, that is, when Sprint worked out a deal to bring most of them back home again, because although Stout's rationale might've made sense to financial analysts and stockholders, it didn't resonate with Sprint's internal lines of business, at least one of which had surreptitiously reached out to former employees at IBM in an unofficial effort to create a "shadow" IT group.

"In a lot of ways there has to be a lot more rigor. In that broker model, [for example,] I want to understand what I can actually put into the cloud: what I should put into the cloud. And I have to have more rigor than ever around SLAs for those various partnerships," she comments. "There's another archetype called IT everywhere where there really is no 'IT' at all; [IT is] really a contractor office that handles SLAs. Its responsibilities involve a lot of choreography."

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