Friday, March 23, 2012

Shadow IT

There is an interesting article: about how people in the business departments are doing functions that really should be services provided by IT. 
Many years ago the same discussion/problem existed when departments  started using the new technology like the Wang mini computers and PCs and discovered that they could solve problems using spreadsheets  and access databases.  Geeky engineers liked the ability to program the Wangs.    Part of that solution was to declare the mainframe systems that were tailor programmed to be obsolete relics of the past and to move to client-server systems that were smaller, lower cost and ran  off-the-shelf software that would solve all problems".

Well, they weren't exactly the silver bullet that many had hoped for.   The software produced by the leading providers is for sure flexible but it is very difficult for anyone to really know how to configure all the possible functions.  Now we are back into the same situation but now with that very same savior client server software  and a new era of portable computing devices where we carry massive power on our belts.   The software is run on huge server farms (ie: mega-MIPS systems) with huge main memory capacity and almost unlimited (and low cost) disk storage.  (the mainframe of today)  All of this is accessed by a GUI program running on a PC.  This is not unlike the 3270 or 5250 green screens of before, just looks a little better.

Have we really improved or in order to solve the problems of today do we need to go back to having highly customized applications to meet the business needs?   Can the big software companies and the legions of consultants/analysts move fast enough to stay up with the fast changing world of social media and tablet/palm computing devices.    Is this causing companies to not be able to innovate their internal processes fast enough to stay world class leaders in their industry?    

I think that we are being held back by these restrictions.  In an attempt to compensate there are now, yet once again, huge spreadsheets, uploads/downloads being done in the business in order to support reporting.   We have to get back to having the IT support the business and the business to support IT to do that.  

More in a later blog about HOW to accomplish this.