Chapter 3. IT as Conversational Medium

Serving as a medium for digital conversation is IT’s new mandate. Responding to this mandate means radically transforming IT’s understanding of its purpose, as well as its approach to fulfilling that purpose. It means replacing information systems management with empathic conversation as both the driving force and the ultimate goal by which post-industrial IT measures itself.

IT has traditionally taken an industrial approach to building and operating systems. It has concentrated on implementing large-scale solutions with high up-front costs and an equally large presumed return on investment. Development has proceeded in linear phases, from initial conception, through design, development and testing, to completion. Project management has used sophisticated tools and processes that have required specialized expertise.

IT took this approach under the impression that it could, and must, predict needs and capabilities in advance. Business requirements were seen to be highly complicated and thus to need highly complicated solutions and solution implementations. IT organizations invested millions of dollars in software solutions such as ERP systems that were intended to model the entire business.

All-encompassing enterprise projects took years to deploy and often cost as much to implement as they did to buy. Sadly, more projects failed than succeeded. IT developed a reputation for an inability to reliably deliver on its claims. Large-scale IT projects ...

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