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Game of Thrones: Five Takeaways for IT

By Ben Stephenson, Journey to the Cloud

After a long wait, Game of Thrones Season 4 has officially started (no spoilers for the first episode of season 4 – I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy).  Amidst the action and excitement, there are some lessons IT can take away from seasons 1-3 of the show. Here are five of them:

The War Lies to the North

After Robert Baratheon dies, there is all out war for rule of the Iron Throne and control of the Seven Kingdoms. Joffrey Lannister usurps power after the passing of the king and executes the Lord of Winterfell, Ned Stark. This sparks Ned’s son Robb to march on King’s Landing to attempt to overthrow Joffrey. Meanwhile Robert Baratheon’s younger brother Renly, his older brother Stannis, and Daenerys Targaryen are also all raising armies to try and defeat Joffrey. By the end of season 3 however, it becomes known that the deadly “White Walkers” are back after thousands of years. Some people realize that the war everyone is fighting right now is insignificant because the real war lies to the north.

The lesson for IT: There is often a good amount of unrest between the IT Department and other business units. Maybe Accounting gets frustrated and places the blame for a systems failure on IT, but IT claims it was the Accounting Department’s fault for not following proper protocols. Maybe there is unrest between Marketing and IT around budget allocation for new tradeshow equipment. The lesson here is that IT needs to partner with the business and work together in order to achieve the overall goals that will determine the success of the company.

Liberate Your Users

Daenerys Targaryen, or Khaleesi, is looking to take back the throne that used to belong to her family. Without an army, she purchases a large number of slave soldiers. Instead of treating them poorly and forcing them to fight for her, she frees them all and says it’s their decision if they would like to stay and fight by her side. She then goes from city to city freeing slaves. The result? An extremely loyal and passionate army.

The lesson for IT: People will respond better if you give them choices as opposed to dictating how everything is going to work. Employees are going to bring their own devices to the workplace whether you allow it or not, so empower them to do so by implementing a BYOD program. Shadow IT is going to happen. Employees are going to bypass IT and use AWS. Provide them with a way to do so while you control costs, security, and governance.

Innovation Is Key

When Stannis Baratheon launches a full scale attack on King’s Landing with a large fleet of ships, things look pretty dim for the Lannister family. Stannis has more man power and weapons and has the advantage of being able to cut off supply lines to the capital. Tyrion Lannister, King Joffrey’s uncle, is forced to think outside the box to try and defend his city. He ends up catapulting barrels of deadly wild fire onto the attacking ships, successfully fending off Stannis’ forces. 

The lesson for IT: Continue to innovate and look for creative ways to solve problems. It can be difficult to get to the strategic initiatives when your team is bogged down by day-to-day mundane tasks. IT leaders need to make innovation a top priority in order to keep pace with the needs of the business and the rapidly evolving technology landscape.

The Wall of Security

Security is critical to the survival of any organization. Winterfell and the North always relied on “The Wall” to keep out marauding Wildlings. The Wall is hundreds of feet high, made of sheer ice, and guarded by the Men of the Night’s Watch. Getting a large group of people past The Wall is extremely difficult. However, when an assembly of the Night’s Watch has to abandon their posts to head out beyond the wall, a group of Wildlings is able to scale it and cross to the other side.

The lesson for IT: It’s obviously important to have the proper security measures in place in your organization.  The lesson from the Wall though is that no matter what security you have in place, there are always ways to infiltrate your environment no matter how secure it may appear. This is why you need to proactively monitor and manage your environment.

Choose Your Partners Wisely

As the war with the Lannisters drags on, Robb Stark is in desperate need of more soldiers. Robb strikes a deal with Walder Frey to have one of his uncles marry one of Frey’s daughters to unite the families. Robb chose the wrong partner and things don’t go according to plan (and by not “going according to plan” I mean Robb, his wife, his mother, and his countrymen are brutally murdered during the wedding ceremony…).

The lesson for IT: There are a lot of factors to take into consideration when you’re deciding who to align yourself with. Choosing the right vendor for your organization depends on many factors including the specific project you’re working on, your existing environment, your budget, your goals, your future plans, etc. You don’t want to make a hasty decision on a specific vendor or product without thinking it through very carefully. This is where a company such as GreenPages can act as a trusted advisor to help guide you down the right path.

Any other lessons you can think of?

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