Let me tell you a story. A very high level organization in the global economy recently came under completely new management. The new management inherited some sorry, dilapidated information technology infrastructure. They hired a new Chief Information Officer to set things straight. In his first week on the job, the new CIO worked 80+ hour weeks and the email servers were down 23% of the time. Over 82% of the computers in the company had reached their end-of-life and most of the desktops still used floppy discs.
Welcome to The White House, in early 2009.
As of 2009 when Barack Obama took office, command central of the Commander in Chief was embarrassingly outdated. The new Executive Office CIO, Brook Colangelo, started on January 20, 2009, the same day as President Obama. On day 6 of the new administration, it all hit the fan. The email servers were down for 21 hours and Colangelo was called into Rahm Emanuel’s office at 5:30AM the next day to account for it:
"I was walking (to the meeting) with some other leadership. It was pitch black and I haven't gone home, and then the most amazing thing happened," said Colangelo. "As my two feet hit the door of the West Wing, my Blackberry started to buzz. I normally hate that feeling, but I got to tell you it was the best feeling I ever felt. Email was back up.”
Talk about some pressure! Colangelo went on to completely revamp the White House’s information technology. He provided redundant email servers, offsite backup solutions and even found ways to automate many of the staff’s time-consuming processes. He created technical safeguards to ensure the White House could function well, listened to users for better ways to do things and enabled employees to be much more mobile
When people speak of “inheriting the previous administration’s problems,” we don’t think of its technology. However, even organizations like the White House run on immensely inefficient systems. When a business makes an acquisition, comes under new management or begins working closely with a new strategic partner, it acquires that organization’s technology along with all of its problems.
Besides being very glad you’re not the IT director for the White House, the moral of the story is that it is worth it to bring in someone who knows what they’re doing. In the long run, you’ll save time, money, energy and sleep. And how much is that worth to you in your business?