Its always about the business (or mission)

So yesterday the follow-worthy @chrisonea lobs this question on Twitter:

Is there any circumstance under which IT should build a thing without a business purpose?

I emphatically answered, NO. Here's why.

Long ago when the last of the punch card machines were dispatched to the junkyards and the IT department was still called Data Processing, I was in college. Being an IT wannabe, I enrolled in my first COBOL course. Dr. Barone was my instructor and took us through all that verbose quasi-English that produced reports on green bar paper in the lab. Aside from COBOL, he taught us a bit about the relationship between the business and IT. IT, he contended, exists to serve the business and not the other way around. He was rather emphatic about it. We were not at liberty to code our hearts out like some painter with a canvas. We were to fulfill requirements. Nothing more. Nothing less. Sir, yes sir!

This idea has always stuck with me. Whether working in internal IT departments or producing software for external clients. Even in the latter case the software exists solely to achieve an objective for the client's business. It especially resonates well as I focus on enterprise architecture. 

If I were to rationalize an IT portfolio of applications or middleware, I still rationalize at the behest of the business. There is a realizable benefit that can be articulated in business terms. Reduced operating costs through simplification in this case. Every CFO and CEO understands that language. Even if I were to "build it and they will come" (speculation), there would still be some business outcome I'm seeking such as revenue generation.

Yes, ITs still about the business. Period.


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