As dlmorrese says in his blog, Towel Day is fairly obscure. Today is Towel Day though, and it is the commemoration of renowned author Douglas Adams’ life. Adams of course was the author of the brilliant The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Towel day started to be commemorated in 2001, two weeks after Adams’ death. You’re encouraged to have your towel with you on this day.
I thought that the towel was a good analog for the predisposition that you might have for doing what you’ve always done and not thinking ‘out of’ the proverbial (constrained) mental box. In this vein I am of course talking about how you work with your SAP system. Many of us cling to metaphorical towels when thinking about how our SAP systems should work in a business setting, the result is that IT professionals in particular, become guardians of the businesses technology, is that the way it should be?
In recent years, with the implementation of more rigorous regulation, many businesses, particularly public traded ones, have been forced to adopt Sarbanes Oxley and IFRS approaches with respect to managing business activities. A lot of these measures have been instituted due to fraud, mismanagement and bad decision making; a knee jerk reaction if you will, to the misbehavior of a marginal few. I say marginal, because of course, I hope it is marginal. Most people, don’t go into business thinking ‘how can I dupe the everyone, make a ton of money and escape undetected?’.
Businesses exist to transact and effective business is achieved when the ability to transact is as frictionless as it possibly can be. That means that regulation shouldn’t drag the business process down, it should instead ensure that the business process is not generating unnecessary risk and opening up unnecessary vulnerabilities. This same thinking should be applied to making decisions about technology. The recent news that IBM for example, opened up the concept of BYOD was great news for employees who have a favourite mobile device but of course it very quickly revealed that there were some instances where BYOD introduces unwanted vulnerabilities. The point here, is that the concept of BYOD was entertained and evaluated; accepted and implemented but with some constraints. Measured constraints. Some critical analysis and evaluation was done and that was evident from the constraints applied.
All too often IT seems to think that it is IT’s role to deny first and then concede only under business pressure. My suggestion is that IT consider not ‘throwing in the towel’ but consider ‘changing the towel’. Regulation and policy is often hidden behind, like a Linus van Pelt blanket from the comic strip Peanuts. Changing the Towel brings many opportunities to IT which these days has to endure so many pressures from different groups. Business users who don’t roll their eyes or sigh when they realize they will have to talk to IT about issues will rapidly become partners with IT rather than adversaries but only if IT considers thinking differently.