Information Technology Management with a Purpose

Oct 1 2012   3:45AM GMT

Are there limits to applying IT?

S R Balasubramanian Profile: S R Balasubramanian

I have come across quite a few IT professionals and CIOs who desired change of jobs just because they had reached a level of stagnation in their current organization. When quizzed further they said they had already done whatever there was to do and therefore they have now to move on to do something bigger.

I was often amused and pretended sympathizing with them asking a few innocent questions to let them open up and tell me something more about it. What they said revealed quite a lot about their psyche and their level of understanding of the role they had taken up. These people were either CIOs of medium-sized organizations or IT managers from some larger organizations and they met me for a position in my company and in other cases came to seek my advice on their career paths.

Perceived stagnation

What I found was that, in many cases, the perception of candidates was they had reached the limit of what could be done and there was nothing further that IT could do. Strange as it seemed, these candidates, however, seemed convinced of the situation. Let me narrate an instance of my encounter with a candidate who approached me for a job as manager. After the initial exchange of information about his current role and the my requirement, the conversation proceeded thus:

Me: Good to know that you successfully implemented ERP in your organization. Why then would you like to leave this position?

Candidate: Sir, once ERP is implemented there is not much else to do. Plus I have already given reports that users wanted.

Me: OK. Are users making use of the reports and have they derived benefit by reducing inventory, outstanding etc.?

Candidate: They take out reports regularly and I would expect them to put that to use.

Me: Did you explore the possibility of making process improvement in various areas and of reducing the turnaround time of different processes?

Candidate: That is a business call sir. I don’t want to interfere in their area.

Me: May be BI can help in analyzing business performance.

Candidate: I know but other managers don’t listen. Plus, it is difficult to train them.

Me: What about connecting other stakeholders like suppliers and dealers over Internet?

Candidate: That will take a long time.

You may have guessed it right, I rejected this candidate.

Those who came out of this syndrome

A young CIO once approached me requesting me to mentor him on his career path. Besides seeking a direction for his career, his immediate requirement was to change his present job for something better. I tried to understand his current role and factors that limited his progress. His answers were somewhat similar to what is mentioned above, but in this case he was searching for answers.

I talked to him about various possibilities including process re-engineering, BI, content/ document management, web-based processes merging into ERP, introducing mobility, etc. He then left with a few ideas in mind and worked in the same organization for the next two years bringing about changes and getting management’s attention.

He met me again and said he wants a change now, not because he was stagnating but because the organization had limited growth plans and therefore he wanted to use his new-found learning and confidence in another organization that is looking for improvement.


I thought that was an amazing turnaround displayed by this young man. He simply demonstrated that he could grab initiative and act when others slept. Problems are only in the mind and once you act things start things start falling in place. There is no point in running away from any situation as you may encounter the same problem in the next outing. Unless we use our faculties to improve the situation around us, we may fall short of our self-esteem.

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