There I sat hearing the same lame excuses I’ve heard for the past 12 months from the staff of a very large not for profit: “we can’t do it because IT told us it would take 5 years before we can have online registration and payments.” Are you kidding me!? It’s been over 8 hours since our meeting and I’m still outraged at the ridiculous notion that a multi-million dollar organization cannot, let me rephrase, will not figure out how to make something as common as an online sign up forms work system wide. Sadly, in this case, IT is killing the organization.
I sound like a broken record on this issue, but marketing should drive your web strategy and not IT. Really. Your online presence lives or dies on the end-user experience. If people can find what they’re looking for, if they can intuitive navigate the site and complete their transaction quickly, then everyone wins. If they don’t, then you lose. Users don’t care if you’re on a Linux, .NET, or whatever platform much less about what you’re redundant backup systems are. They want their experience to be intuitive, well designed and fast. If you website doesn’t deliver on these expectations than you lose. Yes, you need security, redundancy and a stable platform, but unless you have the front end right, nothing else matters.
When I run into such situations usually there’s an individual, a CIO, head of IT or even a Webmaster who’s responsible for such online debacle. Organizations get on such predicament because of:
1. Laziness. I’m not willing to learn new things and “start over” with a new development language, program or operating system. Let’s just maintain the status quo.
2. Ignorance. Technology moved past me, and I’m stuck doing what I know well which happens to be old, obsolete technology that can’t do what the market demands and the competitors are doing.
3. Fear. I spent a ton of money on a system that’s now ineffective and to admit it and make a change now might cost me the job. And besides I’m afraid I might not understand the new technology anyway.
4. Any combination of the above.
Unfortunately, these IT professionals work for non-tech savvy COO’s or CEO’s or Executive Directors and all they need to say is “It’s very costly to make a change now, and there are several security issues with this plan. This could be a big liability for us.” This phrase alone is enough to instill fear and trepidation on any executive. After all, who wants to be responsible for a costly, unsecured liability? So the evil you know is better than the evil you don’t know.
Meanwhile the organization misses opportunities, sales and credibility with consumers and members.
In my experience, these situations point to a leader’s inability to put the organization’s best interest before an employee or team who’s holding everyone hostage with their rhetoric.
What’s your take? Am I being too harsh?