004 IT is Spine and Brain

Today I would like to share a thought on where IT departments should stand in the system of organizations.

My first position was as a consultant and then six months later I took over the lead of the IT department. That was the time when the computerization of the business really started. This was the big point when each of these people who sit in the offices could really make productive, use of computers. Now it is 2020 and when I deal with companies, I very rarely get positive feedback about their IT people. The majority of employees believe that their internal IT department is not good.

This affects me personally as I was an IT manager and team leader. And I know why! Whenever people need their IT department, they always complain that they’re so busy. Others are busy too! So IT is usually slow performing or delivering stuff that others don’t understand. If you are becoming upset then good!  If not, then maybe this is not the right podcast for you. Give it a try and stick with it.  What I see today is that IT departments, have completely separated away from what they call “the business,” or the operative units of the company. I believe this delayed 15 or 20 years of development, and I also believe that this is the way to hell, meaning outsourcing.

“IT departments have separated away from the business."

When we take the army as an example, you cannot say that the logistics unit is the only part of the army. I will share a very good story with you. I had an interview in my German podcast, and someone made this statement: “No innovation, this is not IT. Marketing does the innovation.” Only increasing the network from speed one to speed two is not innovation!

Nobody can survive without IT! Even a blacksmith who makes horseshoes will not be found if they are not online. Every company needs a solid foundation, which is IT based. Each IT department is, if not the heart of each company, then at least the spine and the brain of the company. The purpose is to understand the business, to understand business processes, to deliver a platform which the company can rely on and grow from.

“Every company needs a solid foundation which is IT-based.”

For instance, see that GDPR is a positive, not a negative. GDPR was the biggest present for smart IT companies in the last 10 years. It was an opportunity to open all the boxes in various departments: understand them, analyse them, document them and become brain and spine of your company. Use these opportunities to allow the company to thrive in the future and to optimize and to get better in the future.

What is stopping you from becoming the innovative engine of your company?

It’s in your hands!


“The IT department is, if not the heart, the spine and the brain of each company.”

Stay in lead!



Good morning, afternoon, good evening! Hello and welcome to the Live it Lead it podcast. I’m your host Olaf Kapinski.
I send greetings to all the successful people out there in the world and especially in Europe.
Let me give you a little inspiration episode today. This is November time and I am walking the dog. It’s nice, warm, cozy weather here and I really like it.
So let me use this time to share a thought on where IT departments should stand in the system of organizations.

I started in, right after my diploma, in 2000 in an IT company. My first position was a consultant and then six months later or something I,
joined the IT department which deals with customers.
And I think this was till 1999 or 1998, something like that.
That was the time when, let’s say, the computerization of the business really started. I believe when the gooey of the Windows 95, not the core piece, was the big breakthrough.
This was the big point when each of these people who sit in the offices could really make productive, use of computers.
I know, since Windows, we have PCs longer in the office.

But from what I see since the since the century changed, since the 2000, is mandatory that everybody who works has a computer and that this computer is more powerful. Not necessarily the computing power gets part more powerful, but what you can do with it gets more powerful.
You compare a standard PC today in an office, you can call it a dust machine with nearly hard spreadsheet program on it, and you just can’t do this spreadsheet stuff.
And if you don’t use this or you don’t need to use this, then you just do something else with pen and paper.
So I believe this computerization started, which started give or take 20 years ago. The date is not so important now.
So this was 2000. Now we’re 2019! When I look into companies dealing with helping them with how to get processes and leadership tools and objectives sorted, it’s always the same. When I’m not engaged with the IT department itself, then I always ask okay, their IT people are performing and it’s never a positive response.

The majority of employees say our internal  IT sucks. 
It sucks that this sucks because this touches my heart and this touches me personally as I was an IT manager and team leader.
And I know why! Because IT is the department which is not really responsive.
Whatever you need, they always complain and wind around that they’re so busy.
Do you ,Mr I . Guy, think that the others are not busy?

 If they answer, you wish they hadn’t answered because then they give you all of their tech, blah, blah bullshit. Then they ask you, “Do you want this secret databases or do you want this Oracle one?
Make a wise decision now because we can’t change it afterwards.” And you think, “What the fuck’s the database?”
So IT is slow performing? IT is usually delivering stuff that others don’t understand. They are by far too expensive, and usually they’re in the way.
So I hope you’re getting aggressive now, because when you’re aggressive now, then I really touched you.
If you say, I don’t give a fart on the performance of my department,? Maybe this is not the right podcast for you, but give it, give it a try and stick to it.
But if you say no, this is overstating. I’m an IT leader and I deliver services to the business, then I’m completely with you. But it does not do that.
They are so in love with their tech! And then they make jokes out of these noobs, these stupid customers or “the business” to make it a nice separation.
So what I see today is that IT departments, on average, have completely separated away from what they call the business. These are the operative units of the company.

I believe this delayed 15 or 20 years of development.
And I believe this is the way into hell.
By hell I means this is the way into outsourcing. This is the way to IT is a cost factor in our company, and we are not a cost factor.
I mean, we can switch off our systems then you see how far we get with the company and IT gets on their nerves.
So this is what I see to today. IT is too slow and too expensive, and IT is whining about everything.
They always come and hinder the new things. No, we can’t use Google Drive because of blah, blah, blah, security, blah, blah. A disaster!
If you have no clue what I’m talking about and your opinion is completely different, please reach out to me olaf@liveitleadit.com on your view to this thing. But I think, and now the disclaimer, I’ve overstated this. Not a lot.
So I think this is a fear. This is a reasonable fear of today, and this is a shame.
This is a shame on several levels.
So the first shame is that the leader of these IT departments don’t do their jobs.
They separated, they allow their people to call clients “the business.”

They are in love with their training. They have some some outsourcing contractors, but it’s mainly them and their stuff. And they when you ask them why they do this, they say
why that much money, then they have either ironic statements or they go with tech statements.
This is not really what “the business, the people” who purchased and paid for this will understand. So this putting IT outside the organization,
this is a mindset thing. I think this is a shame because this doesn’t work. IT doesn’t work by itself and, sorry to say, but the magic times are over.
You know what I’m talking about? 20 years ago, we were invited to these parties, not because we are the cool party kids. We were the guys who could set up the internet accounts!
Why did you go to the parties? Well, I got invited. Okay.
Number one, because I was the guy who set the network up! Talking about quarks, cable and stuff like that. So this somehow got moved into the mindset of IT.
Not the right way. You cannot say,when we take an army example, you cannot say that “I’m the logistics of the holy ones and it’s the logistics is us and them.” No, this doesn’t work.
Number one, the Army’s is not there for logistics. That means they are there to enforce some power somewhere.

And the logistic is an important piece of it. Not the only thing off the army.
IT is the same. So one, this is a waste of opportunities.

It’s a waste of opportunities. Let’s talk about innovation and, yeah, I know I come from Germany and we are not famous for any innovation at all.
We have some market leaders but they are market leaders, because they do the  same things they’ve done yesterday, but a little bit better.
When I started walking, I saw a video off Tesla’s new truck. Love it, love it, love it!
As soon as they sell this thing in I will just get me one. This is so cool! So this is nothing that comes from Germany?

Now I will share a very good story with you. And this is going in the decision of going into that I work for IT leaders.
I had an interview in my German podcast, and there somebody made this statement: No innovation, this is not IT. Marketing does the innovation.”
And this was embarrassing. And I felt upset and this was the starting point when I said “Okay, I’ll work with leaders in IT to make us better and to put more value to this.” So, innovation.
How innovative is your department? Usually an IT department bunkers down into redoing the same stuff a yesterday and we fiddle around with operations.
And we think that increasing the network from speed one to speed two  is the innovation. That’s not innovation! for Windows 7 to Windows 10 is seriously, not innovation. This is a boring operations project.

Here is the chance that I see that nobody really takes, and it goes like this. No company in the world, and I include a blacksmith or a bakery down the road,
nobody can survive without IT.

They all rely on us and you can put this in all directions!
The blacksmith who does these awesome horseshoes, who is not in the Internet, who’s not able to be found, will die out because nobody knows who this person is anymore.
And you then can hope that you have your nameplate put on the right street. No, this doesn’t work anymore!
This will not work. So every company needs a solid foundation, which is IT based.

Every company needs to understand customer data.
They need to be able to do good online marketing. They need to be able to optimize and document their processes at least. They need to put all the stuff that can be done by robots into robot! Robots are scripts and robots are machines that do these things.
And we as IT guys need to orchestrate all of this.
We need to offer to orchestrate this. We are not there to deliver bloody laptops!
This is not our job. And this is the main purpose of this episode:to inspire you to think about what are you doing there and where you should be and where you are at the moment!

I believe each IT department is, if not the heart of each company, then at least the spine and the brain of the company.

So at the moment, most IT departments are treated like cancer.
But in the real world, and I think this is the only way that we have a future, we must become the spine and the brain of each company.
That means we have to stop fiddling around with technology.
I understand that we need to run technology, but fiddling around means once it’s set up, it’s set up and it’s done.
If it’s standardized then ask for for an external person who could help you with this. If you are installing laptops to deliver them,
you are not doing do your job. This is a boring job for a supplier. The purpose is to understand the business, to understand business processes, to deliver a platform which the company can rely on and grow from.

If you think no, “We are so blocked and GDPR is the latest thing, which is completely misunderstood.
We’re so busy with just writing down rubbish because GDPR forced us to write down these processes.”
I need to say “Sorry, change your job. Please. Please change your job immediately.”
GDPR was the biggest present for smart IT companies in the last 10 years.
GDPR was stuff that everybody had to do. It was completely an understanding of processes and of data silos. GDPR should have been one and a half years ago your crowbar to open all of these bloody boxes in the in these departments: understand them, analyze them, document them and become brain and spine of your company.

If we are not doing it, who’s doing it?
When I hear that the marketing department is the driver of innovation? This is a joke, this is stupid joke!
Yes, it touches me personally, but these guys are not trained enough in tech.
Yes, they use their own marketing systems, and some of them have a reasonable technology.
But I do not know any marketing person who can really sketch out a big IT infrastructure with all the data streams options that we have.
If we leave every process of  optimization, innovation, in the hand of marketing, this is the wrong way!

Let me be a little bit selfish here.
The selfishness is not necessarily about if you do your job right or not.
I don’t care if you do your current job right or not. I doubt that this is the job of the future.
So the selfishness goes like this for us.
If we as IT guys only tell them, for example, “We can’t do Skype because the firewall blah blah and whatever you need.
Oh, we’re so worked out and minimum six month free-head.
And we need the billable amount of money,” which you don’t explain.

You get fired. I could reason you get fired. Worse.
Even worse, your company may go down the drain because they understand that they need computers.
They you don’t call this IT or so but they don’t have anybody to talk to. Digitalization, we’ll make another episode of this,
is not replacing a paper process with IT stuff because then it’s just a electrifying paper process.
No, who, if not you can propose the tech things that are possible nowadays?
Who, if not you can, can understand the the process of value creation of your company and interpret this into technology?
That’s the only thing that you have so that the company can thrive in the future and to optimize and to get better in the future.
If you guys don’t do it, then your competitors are doing it faster. You’re off the market, you’re unemployed.

That’s an a little inspiration episode. Now I take my dog and go back home. I hope this touched you a little bit. Don’t feel offended or something like that.
I give clear statements and very often, when I don’t sugarcoat these things, then they go a bit deeper into your brain.
Think about this as I said. If you have no clue of what I’m talking about, and you are completely on the other side off the spectrum, then write to me olaf@liveitleadit.com. 
If not, then why aren’t you doing it? What is stopping you from becoming the innovative driver? The engine off your company?
It’s in our hands. And my mission is that IT folks out there that we all come out of the dirty basement right into the light because we are the drivers of the company, we need to become spine and brain of the company!
So that’s it! Wish your a great week, have a good one. Olaf, bye.