IT Geek vs. Suit Divide: What’s Your Contribution to the Problem?


As observed by Andy McAfee during the Harvard Business Review (HBR) webinar discussing digital transformation, there’s often a subtle or not-so-subtle conflict between IT and the business.

This tension is longstanding, and affects companies large and small. For success at any company, the business can’t blame IT for non-optimal support nor can IT treat the business with any type of disdain. Both sides contributeandrew_mcafee.jpg, but change starts with the individual. So, start with what you can control and ask the right question: What’s your contribution to the problem?

Beginning with a question directed to yourself brings a human aspect to a business, and not just IT or process perspectives. It’s not always an IT process or piece of technology that drives a business and delivers success. It’s people that deliver success.

Successful companies have a productive dialog amongst IT and the lines of business sides. Both the business and IT require reflection to run properly. And both need honesty and open relations, as well as dialog. As Andy points out, who cares who walks into the other’s office first, the CIO or the CEO, just as long as someone begins the conversation.

Success incorporates ownership of technology. The relationship with the business users and IT needs to be fluid. This symbiotic relationship requires that IT provide services the business needs to run a competitive company, and the business must understand the constraints and pressures placed on any IT division to properly support a company viasecure and compliant means.

When discussing this geek/suit divide, it’s interesting to consider workforce age differences, from next generation hires to retirees. Andy 2nd_machine_age_square.jpgpoints out that demographics may possibly be on our side right now when it comes to the acceptance of workplace technology limitations, but that won’t last long. Millennials will not tolerate weekday technologies that don’t live up to ones they have regular access to outside the office. It is IT’s responsibility to deliver the technology experiences workers expect, but within the risk and security controls required to keep the company optimized. The traditional technology divide must be condensed as newer generations join the workforce—this will promote the symbiotic relationship needed to meet business goals.

Andy suggests that teams “stop pointing fingers and develop some kind of shared goals and shared vocabulary.”

What have you done within your company to create dialog between IT and business?

To see the full HBR video, click here:


Jeff Moloughney


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These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.

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Jeff Moloughney

Jeff Moloughney

Jeff has been in the enterprise software business for close to 20 years working at Oracle, FrontRange Solutions and most recently BMC where he is a member of the BMC ITSM solutions marketing team. He has expertise in both product management and product marketing for customer relationship management, customer service & support, and IT service management solutions.