The customer?

I’m just pondering what this really means.  It seems that most IT folks consider ‘the business’ to be their customer, perhaps it’s the divisive nature of this statement that makes me uncomfortable. For every organisation surely our ultimate customer is the ‘real’ customer – without whom there would be no business!  Where does that put our business stakeholders then?

In my humble opinion I would say they are simply part of a team.  (Perhaps this is one of the reasons I find comfort in Agile practices, although in my experience most orgnisations struggle to implement the concept of a cross-functional team of tech and business.)  Calling your business stakeholders ‘customers’ imply that the IT functions are there to serve – this doesn’t tend to encourage business-driven solutions, it almost certainly impedes the combined team effort that’s required to deliver software that satisfies everyone, including our ‘real’ customers.