The end of the IT department 24 Feb, 2011
David Heinemeier Hansson has written a provocative post on the 37signals blog about the end of the IT department, with somewhat predictable comments ensuing. I particularly enjoyed John Gruber’s pithy analysis of said thread:
Certain of the comments on Hansson’s post remind me of this quote from Upton Sinclair:It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.
:-) Anyway, back to Heinemeier Hansson:
At the same time, IT job security is often dependent on making things hard, slow, and complex. If the Exchange Server didn’t require two people to babysit it at all times, that would mean two friends out of work. Of course using hosted Gmail is a bad idea! It’s the same forces and mechanics that slowly turned unions from a force of progress (proper working conditions for all!) to a force of stagnation (only Jack can move the conference chairs, Joe is the only guy who can fix the microphone).
It’s a compelling argument: the traditional IT department is frequently derided for being a “blocker”, and in my experience that’s often fair. At the same time, typical corporate IT cost centres are split between a multitude of competing interests, and suffer at the hands of empire-builders, architecture astronauts, bungling change and communication policies, pointy-haired bosses, disgruntled end-users and disenfranchised staff. So if we are indeed in the midst of a cycle which heralds the passing of the traditional IT department, is that really such a bad thing for all concerned?