I'm a business guy, and an IT guy. I get business, and I get IT.
But I used to be a typical IT person who just didn't understand business. Those were the days.
My first job out of college was working at Mobil Oil in their MIS Department. That's Management Information Systems for you kids out there. We started a newsletter to keep our clients, the business people, up to date on all the neat R&D projects and cool technologies we were working on. The year was 1988.
We we were working on pretty impressive applications of advanced technologies, but we just weren't communicating our successes to the business people very well.
The problem was that our MIS newsletter was called "MIS Information." Of course, the business people thought this was the "mis-information" newsletter! Great first impression we made for MIS's very first newsletter for the business. Nice job!
We did have an incredible team of employees and contractors at Mobil back then. Truly amazing, brilliant people, led by great, inspiring managers. We were working on technology that was ahead of its time.
Here's one example: A few Mobil MIS people worked on this tiny little thing that you would wave and it would charge your credit card so you can pump gas. That evolved into a technology called Mobil SpeedPass. It still works today. I wasn't on that project, but my friends were. We had no idea that what they were inventing would become known as RFID. To us, it was just one more cool project at this wonderful company. (Back then, I used to tell people that the big red O in the Mobil logo stood for opportunity!)
Here's another example: I led a team of knowledge engineers that built global expert systems and global knowledgebased systems. Of course, everybody knows that expert systems are known today as business rule engines thanks to some marketeer who dreamed up buzzwords for a living. Years later, after Exxon acquired Mobil, we learned that the expert system applications we built at Mobil were ahead of their time - - they were more advanced than the expert systems that Exxon had built.
We got the complicated A.I. & knowledge engineering stuff. But we missed the simple elementary business things, like first impressions. For instance, back then expert system "shells" were a popular way to rapidly build your applications.
So we went to the business people to show them the new expert system "shell" we were building to save them time and money. Of course, the Mobil executives just didn't understand why all the screens had the word "Shell" in the title. They were probably thinking something like:
"Shell? Why does this Mobil system say Shell Oil in the title? What are they thinking in MIS? Is this part of their mis-information campaign?"...
We meant to say this was a fancy Artificial Intelligence expert system shell (AKA a template) that speeds up coding, saves time, saves money, etc. But we had no clue!
So I learned very early in my career that IT people just don't get business. And I also learned why business people don't get IT: We give them mis-information, and we don't know the competition!
These are true stories about the disconnect between business and IT. I'd like to hear yours! Add a comment and share your funny or sad tale about business and IT mis-understandings.