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May 29, 2015updated 17 Oct 2016 11:56am

Stick to what the audience expects?

The great thing about finding the right partner is that it enables you to focus on innovation while someone else does the technological grunt work. But will people accept your department doing something different?

I went to a concert last week – Nigel Kennedy, very down with the kids, obviously. He played new arrangements of Bach and Handel – the guitars and drum kits jarred more than slightly – some of his own rockier compositions and a couple of Jimi Hendrix covers. For the second half he had an electric violin.

At 50 I was one of the youngest in the frankly bemused audience, which came back into focus when he played Danny Boy as an encore. The problem wasn’t that he did what he did badly, but it was not what the audience had expected.

I mention this because I was reading a report from Horses for Sources this week, which suggested that outsourcing business processes to a partner – mainly technology processes – would result in greater innovation. Most professionals expected it to.

Contrast this with the attitudes of many board members, who regard the technology departments as “blockers”. People at Hewlett Packard Enterprise events have confirmed as much: the IT professionals are the limiters, they’ve said within the last 12 months, the people who tell us what can’t be done.

Technology has changed to make IT more of an enabler than a blocker, but the question I ask is whether the audience – the board – has accepted it. They’re still talking about IT in a negative manner. Like Nigel Kennedy suddenly arriving with an electric violin and putting guitars into Handel and attacking Jimi Hendrix, the audience may be unprepared.

The IT profession has as much of a job to do in educating that market as it has in supporting it through technology. The business advances a more strategic IT staff can make are considerable, but only if the rest of the board has bought into it.

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