Don’t talk about Digitalization if you can’t even hook me up to your printer

Did you ever trust a painter to paint your house if the plaster crumbles from his own walls? Or a tattoo-artist who is not inked himself? Probably no. And rightfully so!

Why is it then that we – in more complex environments – allow ourselves to ignore our gut-feeling?

Usually Old Economy Companies are just scared of Amazon, Uber, AirBnB or whoever threats to disrupt their business model. And then they dig deep into the war chest and pull out a big budget to “digitalize”.

First digitalization endeavors focused on a mere gadget, an easy way out (that never exists in reality). “We just need this [fill in App, QR-code] and we are safe.”

Lately, you can identify a second wave. It goes like “Shit, we need to do more. Let’s have our own [fill in digital product, online unit, incubator]. Happy hour for all specialized service providers and agencies.

Now imagine to consult such a company. You go there, eager to help them and then they can’t even hook you up to their printers. They have an IT-hotline. You call there. Agent can’t help you. You need a card to identify yourself at the printer. The card is for employees only. You are an external, your card just works temporarily to open a few doors. “Call HR”. You call HR. “Hmmm, this is strange, maybe call XY”. XY is on holiday, you write an email. You get an out-of-office-reply. A guy comes to set up your phone. “Sorry, I only do phones.”.

This is a fictive example that could as well happen like that. You have been in a similar situation, maybe when you were dealing with state authorities. You know what I am talking about.

And the board should know, too. They should feel deep down in their gut that this is wrong.

If there is a management that thinks that this is normal, it is the exact equivalent of a tattoo-artist without tattoos. Blind men who talk about color.

I worked in large organizations long enough to explain why this happens, why employees still need to use blackberries, why they can’t use cloud-based software, why some still need to surf (a strongly regulated part of) the internet with an IE 6. Those are topics for later posts. Just to give you a few hints: I am talking compliance, PCI-levels, data security.

IT departments in large organizations are not designed to support a business model.They are designed to comply with external rules.

If you have an organization like this you should not try to “digitalize” big time. Take baby-steps. There are probably a lot low hanging fruits that can be collected by working on a few basics. Start by giving me printer-access…

Leave a Reply