Wizards and Warriors – A Myth about IT

The Warriors of the island of Bzz Ness had ruled the surrounding areas for almost a hundred years. Their techniques were simple but effective. They beat the other tribes by having more babies, training them in the old ways, and overcoming other tribes by sheer power and numbers.

During their rule, shamans would occasionally come from the outside and preached ways to make the Warriors techniques more efficient, or better quality. These shamans usually impacted the tribe for a short period. As the cost of the shamans and their medicine kept adding up, and the positive impact got harder to find, the Warriors would turn on the shamans, sending them away to find other tribes to bother and go back to the ways of the past.

Decades ago, out of the mists, came a group of people onto our island who understood a new type magic. These Wizards were unlike the shamans; the Wizards tended to keep themselves aloof from the Warriors. Even though they became members of the tribe, they managed to speak in a foreign tongue and failed to understand the tribe’s language.

The Wizards thoughts were strange. They seemed to turn away from simple solutions, preferring the complex, and expensive. They made many promises but almost delivered on none of them entirely. Everything appeared to take longer, be more expensive, and not deliver the value expected.

The Wizards almost always blamed the Warriors. After the Wizards would perform a major magic like the spell of Enormously Real Potential (ERP) the Warriors never seemed to want to do all the work needed to make it work right. The Warriors would keep asking for the Wizards to wave their magic wand, making things like Master Data harmonize (and keep it that way), but the Wizards would refuse to take on this awesome responsibility.

The game continued to be played for decades. The Wizards magic would rarely meet what was expected, but the Wizards understood a major financial secret of Capital Expenditure: The Warriors rarely reviewed the results of the magic over time. As long as they could convince the Circle of Chief Warriors that their magic was a great Really Outstanding Investment (ROI), the financial magic of Capital Expenditures would protect them.

To be fair, the Wizards are not evil. They have the best interests of the tribe in mind. The problem is the Wizards and Warriors have a different worldview. The Wizards deal in potential, where the Warriors deal in today’s achievements.  Both need to be more aware of the total investment (both the cost, and the benefits) and work together to achieve the results.

This difference in worldview is, in part, because the Wizards are considered separate from the Warriors. Though many Wizards, especially the Analysts and the Chief Wizard are fluent in the language of the Warriors, they have a tendency to delight in details that act as a spell of sleep on the Warriors.

Over the decades, this separation has become more troublesome, and today on the island there are threats to both the Wizards and Warriors:

  • Some Warriors have studied some of the ways of the Wizards (mainly on the potential of the magic of technology). These Warriors do not see a benefit of the Wizards though the Warriors education does not cover Security, Governance, Standardization, etc. Their knowledge is key to bridging the Warriors and Wizards, the trick is how to take advantage of it.

  • The magic of Capex is still active, but other Wizards have created new technology magic (Cloud/Subscription Model) which depends on the magic of Opex. This new magic is a mixed blessing: The high single Capex costs depreciated over time are replaced with lower ongoing Opex, which is more comfortable to many tribes. The problem here is the investment in technology can be hidden, and not as easy to analyze its value. Increased costs, can occur, both not as easy to control.
  • Point solutions can be better than overarching solutions like ERP. There is a cost here, however, including areas of security, and integration. Without considering all costs, the technology budget can increase, and your functionality to process business as a whole may decrease!

  • There are deceptions here that should be addressed up front, but many of the other tribe’s Wizards fail to disclose. Moving away from a cloud solution can be just as or more expensive than moving from on-premise solutions (just because it is a subscription service, the data still needs to move). Many other tribe’s Wizards sell the new solutions saying OUR Wizards are not needed. The new magic is potent, but keep your eyes open.
  • The need to look at the investment of magic up front seems less required with Opex than with Capex. Beware the trap. All investments must be examined, and the value calculated over time.

The day of Wizards is not ending, but the Wizards must change to survive. Some of their secrets are known, but the value the Wizards bring is still potent.  The day of aligning or partnering is over. The Wizards must become one with the Warriors to be more than just a service organization which will lose value over time.

New innovations will keep coming, probably at a faster rate than today. New isn’t bad, but New isn’t always good to do now. Innovation can be a competitive advantage or a hole for your money. Determining your tribe’s sweet spot, and knowing when to pass or play with any new magic is the first step in providing real value.

What are your thoughts?