Wednesday, December 21, 2011

IT Systems vs. Busines Systems

I was watching a lecture on the subject of information management/information technology/etc., and the lecturer began discussing systems thinking, a favorite subject of mine.  I was expecting a Senge-like discussion, and maybe an explanation of how information technology plays a role in a modern business system.  But the lecturer had a different viewpoint.  I think he saw IT systems and business systems as being synonymous.  In other words, the professor's view seemed to be:

Business System = IT System

This equation implies an IT-centric approach to business with which I disagree.  I see IT systems as only one part of a larger business system.  My equation is more like:

Business System = People + Processes + Management + Technology + Lots of Other Inputs

For me, IT systems are just one type of technology, which is just one type of input into a business system.  Sure, for e-commerce and other Internet-based endeavors, IT systems are extremely prominent features of the business system.  But even then, they're not the only features.  So often in the business world it feels like this is forgotten.

I would recommend to IT professionals and others in charge of developing, managing, or improving business systems that they take a step back and see things holistically.  Don't be overly focused on technology as a silver bullet, even if IT is your area of expertise.  Use IT systems to support the business instead of seeing IT systems as the business.