Chris Anderson posted a neat blog recently called ‘the black wire and the white wire’. The black wire connects Chris to the corporate network, which is connected to the Internet. The white wire is a standard consumer connection to the Internet.
The black wire constrains the information and services Chris has access too. The white wire doesn’t. It seems to be faster too.
To my mind this thought provoking post, and the associated comments, ultimately leads to fascinating questions for organisations such as… Why do I have the black wire? Why would I implement my own corporate IT services? Why wouldn’t I take them from the Web?
These are quite simple yet deep questions. Consider corporately owned networks, PCs, applications, databases and datacentres. And then consider the point of all of these things – to support business outcomes!
Given business outcomes depend more than ever on the connectiveness of an organisation with the world via the Web, there is a logic to using services on the Web because by definition these have global reach and their providers have often figured out in an IT sense at least how to secure information in the outside world. They are white wire by default. Staff, contractors, suppliers, customers – IT of other organisations – can all make use of the information and services.
Some of these questions are starting to be taken seriously. Real-world conversations on global IT strategy sometimes start with ‘why do we have corporate IT?’ It is of course a provocative question but that’s the point – to start from this perspective and work back, rather than the other way round. Questions such as ‘what helps serve our business outcomes more – more application functionality or more connectiveness?’ – are also being asked.
To declare my bias I believe there is a business need for corporate IT – but I’ve found explicitly exploring ‘White Wire Strategy’ questions helps in the least test long-held assumptions and at best can shine the light on new possibilities in the here and now. As an added bonus, and done in the right way of course, such discussions seem to help ‘business’ and ‘IT’ people understand each other a little better too.