Geeks Versus Suits: The Great Boardroom Schism

Companies need to get beyond the IT-business cultural discord, analysts say.

Suits (business guys) and geeks (IT guys) are like oil and water--it sometimes seems like they were just not made to get along.

The notorious fracture between the two groups stems from everything from a misunderstanding of each others roles to a distrust of the others practices, and is to blame for an assortment of ever-present workplace flare-ups.

Dueling departments have been blamed for no shortage of workplace ills, from projects past their deadlines, over budget or abandoned, to dissatisfied customers, wasted resources and misdirected energy.

Thats no small mouthful from a bunch of co-workers with—theoretically—the same goals.

A survey of U.S. IT executives and business managers released in June by Accenture highlighted how far up the ladder this gap exists.

While 73 percent of responding IT executives said they believe they understand their companys business extremely or very well, 43 percent of general business managers agreed.

Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of both the IT executives and general business managers agreed that senior business managers only understand how to leverage IT either "somewhat" or "not very/not at all" well.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead more here about IT workers confidence.

Furthermore, 61 percent of CIOs identified a lack of "synergies across business units" as a major obstacle to progress in a study released in February 2005 by the Bathwick Group.

In the same survey, over half (56 percent) of business managers said they believe IT is under-delivering on investment dollars.

But this does not mean that eroding the divide is impossible. eWEEK investigates the historical gap between the battling meeting room sides as it relates to their personalities, approaches to their jobs and goals with a self-appointed geek and suit team with a slew of suggestions on how to make peace between the ever-sparring groups.

Next Page: The geek gap.