5 things I've learned - Ben Wrigley

5 things I've learned - Ben Wrigley

Understand the importance of people in the technology equation, writes InterContinental Sydney director of information technology

Intercontinental Sydney IT director, Ben Wrigley

Intercontinental Sydney IT director, Ben Wrigley

1. The business is king

I’ve only been in the IT game for 15 years. Apparently there was a time when it was common for technology divisions within organisations to function as if they were separate units to the rest of the business. I struggle with this concept. It must have been hard work keeping those fences up. Thankfully, modern CIO’s and IT directors are part technologist, part evangelist and part commercial guru and take their rightful place in the organisation’s leadership team, making strategic as well as tactical decisions that drive the business forward. Lucky today’s IT leaders are all that and more.... aren’t they?

2. Absorption happens quickly

The adoption of new technology happens at a rate that seems to be increasing exponentially. As I watch my children and their friends discover, master, then normalise technologies that just a few years ago were the stuff of dreams, I recognise my own prejudices when it comes to estimating how quickly a technology will lose it’s ‘wow’ factor and become an everyday tool. I still think a handheld device that allows me to talk to others via 3G or WLAN, takes photos and lets me share them, stored hundreds of songs, watch TV and download any app, is pretty cool. The kids can’t imagine how life was without such a device. Understanding this helps me to understand the true value of the Blackberry or iPhone IT just provided to the new employee.

3. The Internet can be as dangerous as it is fantastic

The pace of how rapidly consumers are being pushed to adopt internet-based products and services seems to exceed the pace at which governments and educational institutions are actively engaging non-technical people on how to safely operate or participate in such environments. I often hear people who are not technically orientated wonder out loud how similarly technically challenged people who don’t have access to a ‘me’ get by. As an IT leader, if you don’t actively support charity as much as you should and feel slightly guilty about it, put your conscience at ease by teaching somebody who needs to know a little about how to manage the dangers of the internet. They should appreciate your effort, even if they don’t really understand.

4. ‘I think’ and ‘I know’ have very different meanings

I spend as much time with both users and customers as possible, listening and learning how different a meaning the two phrases can have. Often, time spent with those who live with your technology decisions are your best critics. Those in the front line, engaging with our guests can often provide the information that helps to make better decisions and roll out better technology solutions. Having spent several years in the hospitality business prior to moving into an IT role, the background and experience gained has proven invaluable.

5. Spot fires hold you back Time spent putting out spot fires is time not spent being strategic. Root cause analysis (RCA) should be one of the shiniest, well-used tool in an IT leaders tool box. Its liberal use will provide the answers you need to stop spot fires flaring up with monotonous regularity. It’s challenging to sell, sell, sell the great progress you are driving in the organisation through technology when all your peers want to talk about is how spot fires are holding the business back. There are several methodologies that integrate RCA into their processes and the learning curve can be steep at first but, as drivers of change, we IT leaders relish a challenge.......don’t we?

Ben Wrigley is IT director at Sydney Intercontinental.

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