Are You An Application Or An Infrastructure CIO?

by drjim on March 12, 2014

Does a CIO have to choose between applications and infrastructure?

Does a CIO have to choose between applications and infrastructure?
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Due to the importance of information technology, CIOs are in charge of an IT department that works on many different things. As much as we’d all like to think that we are balanced – we care about all things having to do with IT equally, it’s just not true. Depending on your background before you got the CIO job, you are probably biased in one direction or another. Which do you favor more – applications or infrastructure?

How The Infrastructure Team Sees The World

Hopefully it goes without saying that not everyone in your IT department sees the world the same way that you do. There’s the (somewhat) glamorous world of application development and then there is the infrastructure team. Who would want to work on the infrastructure team?

The role of your infrastructure team is to look at the IT department from both a technical and a cost perspective. From this perspective, it’s really all about the company’s service offerings – are they up? Is there space? What are the issues? The infrastructure team is where you’re going to find your company’s technical area experts hiding out.

As the company’s CIO you are going to have to realize that there is a gulf that exists between your infrastructure team and the rest of the company. It’s going to be your responsibility to bridge this divide. In order for your IT department to function at its peak level, you’ll need to craft a single department, not two halves.

How To Get Application Teams And Infrastructure Teams To Work Together

The good news for you is that everyone in the IT department is working towards the same set of goals – a smoothly running IT department. Now your big question is how are you going to make this happen? As the CIO you need to understand that you really need well-rounded IT experts who realize that when they want to achieve results that they are going to have to work to pull together the right subject matter experts.

The infrastructure team can contribute to the success of the IT department by doing what they do best. This includes locking down the IT department so that random changes are not occurring, creating resilient data centers to host company applications, and implementing IT processes that will allow you to run a mission critical IT department.

It is the responsibility of the CIO to make sure that within the IT department the staff have the ability to cross-pollinate their skills. This means having the application team and the infrastructure teams exchange members and learn to work more closely together. Your goal should be to introduce a fresh perspective to the IT department while at the same time allowing both teams to retain their unique culture.

What All Of This Means For You

Although you may have a personal preference for which side of the IT department you want to spend your time working with, the reality is that you are in charge of it all. This means that you’re going to have to spend the time needed to get the application and the infrastructure sides of the house to play well together.

One of the key reasons why there is a lot of disconnect between these two parts of an IT department is because they see the world differently. Getting the infrastructure team to start to focus on the end customer can get both sides into alignment.

Resolving the differences between the application and the infrastructure teams will require the resolving of long standing differences. However, as the person in the CIO position, this is your job. Take the time to do it correctly and you’ll have solved one of the biggest issues that holds an IT department back from being all that it can be.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Is getting the application and infrastructure IT teams to work together a CIOs job or can it be delegated?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When a CIO makes a hiring decision for the IT department, it can have a long lasting impact on the department. Despite the importance of information technology, the people who work in your IT department are even more important. This means that the person in the CIO job wants to take his or her time when considering candidates and not make a foolish blunder. However, all too often we select the wrong person for the wrong job. Looking back at our hiring mistakes, more often than not it turns out that we made one of the three most common mistakes that CIOs make when hiring someone.

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