This term has been around for the last 15 years and there’s a reason for that: it’s very, very important. In fact, the term was around when IT was considered more of a bottle-neck and not an integral and essential part of business movement and success.
Today, you won’t have success in a company unless that company is taking full advantage of the tech opportunities available out there. And, even though CEOs are becoming more tech-savvy, it’s still up to the IT department fully vet new tech products and initiatives and to make them happen.
Gone are the days when IT could partition itself away and come out just when things need to be fixed. Now the best companies are bringing their IT departments in at the beginning of planning sessions and keeping them there.
Let me explain this using the old parable of the blind men and the elephant.
Three blind men are asked to touch an elephant to learn what it is. One man, standing in the front, touches the tusk and says the elephant is a pipe. One man at the side touches the elephant’s ear and says it is a fan. The third man, standing at the rear, reaches out to touch the tail and says it is a snake. The three men get in a heated disagreement over what they are touching. Then a sighted man walks by and asks why they are all standing around an elephant.
Each man was correct in his interpretation of what he knew the animal to be. The guy touching the tusk could never have guessed the huge animal behind it. The same for the other two guys–they knew only their personal experience and what there perceptions were. The sighted man could see the big picture.
Of course, in this case “sighted” means that he was the only person who had the “vision” to see the whole situation.
This is what every company needs–someone who can see the whole picture, what the company’s needs are and what it has to do to get there. Since IT is at the forefront of nearly all new business endeavors, that role needs to come out of IT more and more.
Understand the business need, but also understand the current technical limitations that might keep it from happening and remedy them.