Just saw this story, courtesy of my colleague Martin Atherton (co-worker of book authors Jon Collins and Dale Vile).

Martin asks: are these companies’ IT departments moving from being “suppliers” to “slaves”, or from “suppliers” to “integral parts of the business”?

My hunch is the former, given the retail sector’s on-off successes with IT investments and programmes generally. And if this is the case, it might prove disastrous.

Even if you outsource all your IT provision, you can’t do without a technically-literate IT governance and oversight function that also understands business goals, strategies and priorities. Without that capability in-house you’re opening yourself up to the selfish (and why shouldn’t they be?) agendas of suppliers, whose interests are unlikely to be naturally 100% aligned with yours.

It might be, of course, that the IT Directors in question didn’t fulfil that function – that they were largely IT support managers. In that case, it’s probably fine to outsource their roles. But it only makes sense to do so in the context of a larger picture that involves hiring into a new governance and oversight position.

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