6 Degrees of Separation

Originally Posted on May 23 2011


As many of you will know, research says that everyone in the world is separated by everyone else by 6 other persons. But when it comes to IT and Business, chances are that a large chasm lay between the two. Bridging it is often a tough job.

This is not particularly new, but I recently observed this divide in a budget process, and I think it’s worth discussing it a bit.

 IT and business care about utterly different features, when it comes to designing a system. Obviously the IT is concerned with a lot of technical issues which the business isn't aware of, like manageability, hardware sizing etc. When it comes to system customizing and configurations, though, the IT and the Business still have different concerns.

IT wants speed. All the operations must be blazing fast to ease the IT concern of an unusable system. Every save (in a budget app, with top down splitting) and every calculation had better to be shorter than the blink of an eye.
The Business wants ease of use. Watching an hourglass or a flood for few seconds is not a tragedy, and can well be exchanged with a clear comprehension of what the app is doing.

IT wants coherence. The IT wants all dimensions to be correctly implemented, with every member and every attribute available for analysis.
Business wants relevance. No matter if the minor customers are all lumped together. It might even be better.

IT wants a process, even when they do not consciously know. They try to define a project where first is inputted this, than that, than that measure is calculated, than a split is made etc.
Business wants rules, (the smallest set possible) in a model where they can go back and forth in infinite loops; they change this, than change that, see what happens, switch directions etc.

IT wants a database, where a clear model is implemented and visible on schemes; Where every table or every cube is accurately related to the others.
IT wants familiar layouts, which match their mental data map, and do not care about their technical implementation.

IT wants control, to be sure that users will do the fewest mistakes possible and to be able to revert to the last known good configuration.
The Business wants control, to make mistakes and learn from it, to set rules and break them the very next moment (real life: a sales director said officially “we will plan quantities and prices, values are calculated accordingly”, than at the first planning session the first question was “how can I add 100k€ in miscellaneous products without defining now which products are they going to be?”).

The more experienced among you will find this no big news. What deserves attention, though, is that both Business and IT share the same purpose, but use a different proxy for that.

IT and Biz both do not want to waste time and have a fluid experience, but one chose speed, the other “smoothness”. They all want the correct planning structure, but IT chose coherence and Biz relevance. They both want something to keep their activity from chaos, but IT implements a process; Biz implements rules, etc. etc. etc.

I actually tend to side with Business, but this is a case where both sides have their share of truth, obviously. 

To understand that the 6 degrees of separation between IT and the Business line are just an illusion, there’s no other way than having served in both fields.

After all, I’ve been very lucky.