Why IT Infrastructure really is the ‘Dial-Tone’ of Business Operations

Estimated reading time: 2 mins

Your company’s gateway to the Internet is replacing your Shop Window and your Telephone Switchboard. Outage can be measured in lost dollars and reputation.

If you pick up the phone to make a call and don’t here the dial-tone, what do you do? You might swear and bang the receiver repeatedly in disgust. If you go to a retail outlet and see an empty window, you’ll probably turn away (unless you’re in the market for ‘adult goods’ – you’ll know you’ve gone to the right place!)

If you’re path to and from the Internet fails, this is the effect you’ll have on your customers. The same is true if your internal network or other infrastructure services fail – the whole business grinds to a halt. So your IT infrastructure really is the dial-tone. Unless it’s there, you can’t do much.

ITIL has revolutionized how IT services are managed, but perhaps one failing of it is that the appreciation of the underlying technologies has wained and replaced by neatly packaged services. Consumers of these services are concerned about the ‘contract’ and SLAs and have become less interested in what lies underneath. OK I’ll be fair, this is a big benefit of ITIL, but it does mean that the ‘black box’ mindset prevails. How will IT leaders have conversations that are contextual and discuss the real problem or need for investment?

Maybe you’ve solved this problem – if you have then move on and take a look at some other articles I’ve written, see the links below. But you hadn’t looked at your core IT in this way before then I hope it’s a useful revelation and message you can take to decision makers who can influence decisions on investment in technology.

I find having an analogy like this helps create the necessary perspective. People understand these things. The truth is that most people don’t understand technology at this level, and if it isn’t sexy or have a ‘2.0’ suffix, most people won’t try to. This is how it is, and you’ll never be able to change that.

But wait, whole labor markets have been built around these problems. India didn’t start by being innovative in solving opportunities for marketers. Their focus on the core has meant they’ve built capabilities with such strength and breadth that it can sustain the growth of a whole country. Once they’d mastered the core they have used their credibility to move upwards in the stack.

IT leaders face the challenge of raising the need for investment with non-technical people, beyond the realms of SLAs and accounting. By forming and skillfully communicating analogies, I think they have a fighting chance!

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