One of the things that bugs me in IT development is that the business is too often referred to as “the customer”. “Customer” implies a transactional relationship. A customer purchases from a seller; there is little incentive for any meaningful relationship as it will ultimately come down to price. The buyer wants to pay as little as possible, the seller wants to charge as much as possible.
All to often IT is seen as a cost centre rather than a driver of business innovation and profit. Maintaining the transactional language to describe the relationship between IT and the business helps perpetuate this. We need to stop thinking of the Business as our customer. Instead of “customer” we should look to other professional services for our metaphor.
Professions that involve a more personal, relationship driven approach to their business use “client” rather than “customer”. Whilst retail banking has customers, wealth management talks about clients. I think it is a subtle but important difference. The relationship between IT and the business should not be seen as transactional, it is more consultative in its approach. Structuring our relationship as consultant-client is a small but important first step to redressing the perception of IT as a commodity.