The tale of the data revolution and the IT department
This is an extract of a longer article published for another blog – read the full article on the QUADROtech blog
Recently, I’ve been looking back on my career as an IT consultant, and thinking about the sheer amount that has changed in a relatively short amount of time. This is particularly noticeable when you take a look at the leaps that have been made in Microsoft collaboration technologies. I can’t help but be amazed at the exponential rate of change that has been made across this landscape.
Back when I started working with Exchange 5.5 there was very little year-on-year change. Email was email, maybe some new features came out allowing people to add vomit-inducing background images and other HTML elements to their messages, but nothing moved the needle in terms of innovation.
It was a time when the IT department only spoke to the business when they upgraded an application version, preaching down that this was now “the right way” to perform a task – even though they had no idea what these employees did on a day-by-day basis or what challenges they actually faced. It was difficult for us (as inhabitants of the IT world) to understand that the employees of a company don’t care about High Availability, reduced IOPs or cluster quorums. The word “Redundancy” means totally different things to an employee in the IT department than to those working throughout the rest of the company.
Slowly this started to change as people became far more tech-savvy, informed and vocal. Product messaging changed from bragging about technical features to explaining how real business value could be derived from their use. To me, this was the start of a seismic shift in the way that technology companies developed and positioned their products. Microsoft themselves embraced this new world and realised that tighter integration of all these independent technologies allowed users to share information and data far more easily. I remember the first time I saw a green Office Communicator presence dot in Outlook 2003 – I was blown away. With each new version of Exchange, SharePoint or other Microsoft products there was tighter integration – further stretching the resources of IT departments everywhere. It was impossible to be just an Exchange administrator, I had to become an expert in every technology that interacted with Exchange.
IT departments were tasked with managing all these interconnected systems, and struggled to keep up in this new world. If the team failed to fulfil a business need fast enough, then it was all too easy for employees to go off and figure out their own solution using freely downloaded tools and other forms of Shadow IT.
Then, in 2011, something magical happened – the world began to embrace the cloud.
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