Why Your IT Department Can’t Build Anything Good

Why is Dropbox better than anything your IT organization can roll out? Because Dropbox is the flagship product of a company focused on file synchronization and storage. It’s their profit center. They make money off of doing a task well.

An IT department is a cost center. You need one to do business. It’s a necessary evil. It’s even an enabler of core technologies related to your profit centers. But at the end of the day, IT is still a cost center.

All the DevOps examples talk about how Etsy deploys 50 times per day and Amazon deploys 1079 times per hour (every 11.6 seconds). Those are phenomenal results. Part of the reason they can deploy so frequently is that they are deploying to their core product. It’s their profit center.

We can’t talk about this without mentioning the Consumerization of IT. People use products from Digitally Native companies all the time outside of work. You use Gmail, Wunderlist, Spotify, Amazon, Facebook, etc. They work well, and they look good. We take those expectations and then look at the internal tools we have at work and wonder why ours are so awful.

The Digitally Native companies are on to something. They don’t host things on-premise. They let other companies do what they do best, and focus on their profit centers. When you use a SaaS product, you generally don’t see or know about the upgrades and patches. Any time you bring software in house you are signing up for the ongoing maintenance, support, and resources that will need to be dedicated to it. It’s a distraction, and unless there is a compelling business case, buy instead of build.

I wrote the first part of this post years ago and never finished it. Back then, I worked at Accenture and spent a lot of time with corporate IT. Now, I work at Google Cloud, and spend a lot of time with both product teams and corporate IT.

This still remains true.

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