Archive for February, 2013

The Rockstar Within

Posted: February 19, 2013 in Battle Scars & Rants

There are two types of leaders in this world, be it finance or football, cyberpunk or cyber war.

1) Those that are motivated by fear, that move at a cautious pace whose number one goal is not to interrupt the status quo.

2) And the second type, visionaries; those that are driven by opportunity & change.

The failure I see in most organizations is too much of one and not enough of the other. Too much blind idealism and you end up with a dozen half-completed projects, with poor or non-existent interop, constantly crashing and frustrating both their user base, as well as their support staff. Too much fear, and you’re running your enterprise on a couple hundred power hungry 4U Windows NT Power Edge 6800’s, all using local storage. (Don’t laugh, they still exist!)

As IT leaders, you are rock stars. Period. And your user base = your fan base.

Play out of key, miss a gig, get arrested for a dead hooker in the trunk of your car, and suddenly –that- is what you’re known for. Not the 5 albums that went triple platinum. Not the singles still being played on the radio. Not all the charities and functions you’ve donated your money, and even more valuable, your TIME to.

You are now just your latest failure

Unfair? Duh! Just be glad you’re not a stock broker. An entire mass psychology machine that makes & breaks hundreds of millions quite literally overnight

Our job as IT is now evolving beyond just connecting laptops and iPads; beyond email servers & firewall filters. We are the ones companies go to when they can’t figure something out.

Something, anything. When did IT become responsible for power & airflow? But go ahead, tell your boss “Uh, sorry my MCSE and Bachelors in Business Administration, yeah they didn’t cover that.”

We exist because, whatever it is, from big data and private clouds to smartphones on steroids…we figure it out. We ingest technology, deconstruct complex systems, untangle the abstract, and make it real, and usable, and ultimately, profitable. (Although many arguments to be had on if flexible, feature-rich, business intelligence directly correlates to strategic profitability or if it’s just a commodity we can take for granted…to which I say “Shut up foo! And don’t quote me no damn ‘IT Doesn’t Matter’ bullsh!t”)

IT matters and it matters most. I don’t care if you sell socks or send satellites to the moon, IT is your right hand. We’re the armor a soldier wears into battle. We’re the tools your sales team needs to close that deal. We’re bouncers protecting your night club. We’re the gas in your car and the condoms in bedroom drawer.

It’s quarter end, and you need to run a report showing gross sales, hardware depreciation, operation hours, support hours, manufacturing & distribution resources, power used & consumed in the manufacturing process, cardboard used in the packaging, ink used to make it pretty…

25 years ago, what would you do? You’d call up Agnus and Betty, have them pull your file cabinet down, get every scrap of paper, and over the course of 2-4 weeks, you’d have your report

Business leaders now have that in real time.

Take a step back and ponder with the jedi, REAL TIME.

Would ANY of that be possible without IT? Would you be able to pull out your iPhone, VPN to your corporate LAN, pull up your doc portal, download your latest accounting spreadsheet and have it in your hot little hands all before the plane taxis for take off?

Of course not.

Duh again.

But your CFO isn’t thinking about this. He’s thinking he’s paying $200/sq foot for your 10Gb core switch and your cisco UCS, but in the end, wasn’t VDI his boss’s idea?

Ok, so what do we do about this. How do we get money for our projects and show we have value. That we’re not just some necessary evil to shove into the basement and reach out to when email is down?

More to the point, how do we advertise our potential to be strategic for the business?

YOU! Get off your butt, out of your chair, abandon the cube, evacuate the data center, exodus the IT bubble and create your market.

Learn your business. Learn the names of managers and directors that head the various departments. Ask about their pain points, listen to their ambitions, understand their problems and help to fix them.  In smaller companies, you may have a direct line of communication to C-level execs. If so great, but not essential. Start with middle management. Advocate not only yourself, but your department…your profession.

And let me tell you, these problems will not be easy or simple. The solutions will not be apparent. They will absolutely involve skills you don’t yet have, technologies you’re unfamiliar with, and parts of the business itself that you were previously unexposed to.

It will take hundreds of hours of research and analysis.

But now you’re more than the guy they call when they want a new laptop. You’re now ingratiating yourself into your environment, showing value and literally creating your own demand.

You’re converting a user base into a fan base.

Let me tell you, do this 2 or 3 times…if you didn’t know your CFO before, you will now.

And for the record, you don’t need to be a CIO or VP to be an IT leader. Your mental prowess, your ability to understand the business and architect relevant, applicable solutions, and to communicate this to the departments around you…THAT is what makes you an IT leader.

Literally creating your own position

FINAL THOUGHTS

I’m not known for my subtlety or euphemistic explanations. So, what if you go through with this exercise several times, expand your horizons, improve the business processes of 2 or more departments, and at the end of 2 years, find yourself getting no notice or appreciation? Well first give yourself a minute to vent (kick the wall, punch a server), and after a couple deep breaths, take it for the learning experience it was. What you’ve learned, what you’ve accomplished…no one can take that away from you. So go update your resume (maybe grab a cert or 2 in the process), and put yourself back on the market.

It’s time to move on. Your skills and intelligence are being wasted in your current position; so step out into the unknown and find a place that will fully utilize your potential.

You’ll have a dozen calls in the first 3 weeks.

– Jedi….out