Doing a Gartner

Many things have been said about Nostradamus; by his followers and by people who think, shall we say, less of him. Before and after Nostradamus, there have been a great many people thinking they can predict things to come, some by using their analytical skills, some by common sense, and some by sticking their finger up in the air and calling the direction of the wind. There is an additional group, they use the split end of their body and stick it up in the air while burying their head in the sand, they shall remain nameless.

I don’t know what is worse, people who produce and get paid to produce these so called predictions, or people that believe them. What bothers me is the sheep mentality of industries full of talented people that seem to turn brainless when some of these “respected analysts” stick their chin out and “predict the future”. In the opening keynote session at Gartner’s Fall Symposium this year, Stephen Prentice claims IT departments must pay more attention to what users want or risk facing nothing short of anarchy. What an absolut load of deceased MFM disks and split speed modems!

An IT department doesn’t deal with IT for the sake of IT. An IT department delivers a tool to the toolbox that is the company or community. Last time I checked, the company isn’t run by the IT department. In other words, a more flexible IT environment is something for upper management to deal with. If a company (i.e. those that make the decisions for the company or the community) wants their employees or users to be able to use Yahoo’s Mail or GMail instead of the internal Exchange/Outlook environment, hook up their Playstations to the corporate network, or invite their teenage kids to hook into the database cluster for storing their “shared files” folder, they’ll simply have to make a corporate decision and lay down the law. The IT department will respond by saying that this is not a recommended course of action, and probably be ignored.

The IT department is a service organization, supplying a service for other departments within the company or community, and possibly to customers and affiliates. If the IT department cannot fulfill their obligations because some John Knowitall wants “more flexibility and less Soviet”, then the supply chain within the company is halted.

In Gartner’s company presentation (www.gartner.com), they claim “We deliver the technology-related insight necessary for our clients to make the right decisions, every day.” I would like to disagree. They sell biased information which is quite frequently poorly researched and loaded with personal opinions. But I have to admit, they make a damn good job of getting people to pay for it. And that is the key phrase here, getting people to pay for it.

I may sound jealous, but I’m not. I invite any employee of Gartner with an analytical function, to come and work for any IT department I’ve worked for or with, and see for themselves what anarchy does to a structure based on services and technology, and upper management’s repeated failures to understand the IT department’s function within the corporate structure.

To make matters worse, we’re now seeing the “sheep effect”. I received the latest Mikrodatorn in the mail today. It’s a Swedish periodical aimed at IT consumers (and possibly small companies) and published by IDG. IDG more or less holds a monopoly on the Swedish market for IT periodicals and throws around some serious weight on the Swedish IT market. Reading the first page of the latest edition of Mikrodatorn, I find the editorial sounding more or less like an echo of Gartner’s so-called “analysis” from the opening keynote session.

Let’s go all the way here.. let’s not stop at increased flexibility and increased influence over their own IT environment. I say we give every corporate IT user a private little budget for which they can buy whatever gadgets they think they need at work. Naturally, the IT department should be assigned the task of supporting the gadgets; otherwise our dear friends at Gartner may call us some bad names.

No, I do not currently work for an IT department. I commonly have to clean up after wanna-be management who time and time again fail to understand how IT interfaces with the rest of the company and the world outside of it. This includes IT managers who think their function is to purchase as expensive solutions as possible, regardless of their fitness for the task at hand.

If operational failures are nails, the strategic failures is the hammer driving those nails through the floor (often hitting the IT department in the head).

Who’s watching the watchers watching the watchers? Check out this blog: www.bloglines.com/blog/GartnerWatch.

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