management must know the value of the added
information (provided by the IT marketing personnel who learn it from users) and the cost of the
development (provided by IT R&D). It is then able
to use the predicted added value the additional information provides (cost/benefit analysis) to support
informed go/no-go decisions. Promoting the information component of IT could refocus IT on its
information-services origins. Analysts would be
expected to identify information needs and how they
help users and their organizations generate business
value. Having analysts focus on these needs also
entered the information into the spreadsheets. Other
users were not aware of the system’s ability to manage information for quality-assurance purposes and
handled the information manually. One underlying
factor was that IT personnel thought more about
technological solutions than about the organization’s
information needs and their business implications.
Trust was ultimately established between users and
IT once a particular project leader taught IT to concentrate on users’ business needs and avoid purely
technological terminology. Consequently, the users
learned more about IT and the business information
IT personnel must learn to interact with users to identify information needs
without mentioning the latest technical enhancement.
means less user involvement with technology per se.
IT departments often move directly to technological solutions without first understanding users’ business responsibilities. Such haste inevitably exposes
users to “solutions” to “problems” they don’t necessarily have. Thus, IT may underserve its constituents
by focusing instead on the technological fulfillment
of processes and tasks, inevitably weakening the IT-user relationship. Meanwhile, users are unable to
take responsibility for their own information needs
when IT personnel confuse business information
with technology [ 3]. As reflected in the popular business media [ 2], top executives in many companies
fail to recognize IT’s hidden value because they see
We documented such a dysfunctional relationship
in our 2004–2005 case study. The company’s CIO
identified a gap between IT and users who did not
utilize all the potential features of the company’s
technology and worse did not trust the IT unit.
Consequently, the company suffered from an inability to address its information needs. For example, in
one plant users did not know they could download
information directly from a central database for use
in Excel spreadsheets. Instead, they printed hard-copy reports from the ERP system, then manually
benefits it was designed to provide.
IT professionals should be aware of their responsibility for supporting their organizations’ information
needs through technology. It is the information, not
the technology, they value, using it to increase their
own personal value to the organization. c
1. Applegate, L., Austin, R., and McFarlan, F. Corporate Information Strategy and Management. McGraw-Hill Irwin, New York, 2007.
2. Basu, A. and Jarngin, C. How to tap IT’s hidden potential. Wall Street
Journal (Mar. 10, 2008), R4.
3. Licker, P. User responsibility redux. Journal of Information Technology
Cases, Applications, and Research 9, 2 (Apr. 2007), 1– 4.
4. Swartz, J. Technology troubles set off tantrums, tears, and tirades.
USAToday (Nov. 10, 2006); www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2006-11-
ARIK RAGOWSKY ( email@example.com) is an associate professor
of MIS and director of the Manufacturing Information Systems Center
at Wayne State University, Detroit.
PAUL S. LICKER ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is a professor of MIS at
Oakland University, Rochester, MI.
DAVID GEFEN ( email@example.com) is an associate professor of MIS
at Drexel University, Philadelphia.
© 2008 ACM 0001-0782/08/0600 $5.00