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What's not in a name?

The dullest observation you can possibly make about information technology is that it should be designed to serve the needs of the business, rather than the technology experts.That doesn't stop it being rolled out at every single conference I attend, and as such it's no surprise that moves are afoot to try and change the very phrase "information technology" itself.
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Written by ZDNet Staff on

The dullest observation you can possibly make about information technology is that it should be designed to serve the needs of the business, rather than the technology experts.

That doesn't stop it being rolled out at every single conference I attend, and as such it's no surprise that moves are afoot to try and change the very phrase "information technology" itself.

George Colony, founder of Forrester Research, argues in a recent think piece that we should abandon IT -- a well-recognised if necessarily imprecise moniker -- and adopt the phrase "business technology", or BT, instead.

Colony notes that IT itself replaced earlier labels like "data processing" and "MIS", so there's evidence that we can, as a community, make the switch. "The job has changed, and it's time to acknowledge that fact," he writes. "New job, new expectations, new name."

This is followed with the usual litany of abuse for people with a technical bent. "If you are the head of IT, you are no better than a glorified librarian, dispensing information. In contrast, if you are the head of BT, you are shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow executives who are running the operation."

One obvious problem with this proposal is that for a great many people, the first thing that springs to mind is British Telecom. However, given that we've already managed to absorb most references to the telco industry anyway -- you don't hear the phrase IT&T bandied about these days, whereas a decade ago it was inescapable -- this might not be a major roadblock.

The bigger issue is that, as ever, the importance of actually getting the technology right gets somewhat buried in the rebranding. Sure, it's nice to aspire to going "shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow executives" -- but you'll only get to do that if somebody is making sure that the underlying technology is running smoothly. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: yes, we need to align technology plans with business goals, but someone still has to run the stuff, and telling them that they're just a "glorified librarian" isn't going to inspire them to do a great job.

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