In a company where proprietary software is an integral part of everything our employees engage with on-the-regular, it just makes the tech team's lives a heck-of-a lot easier if every one had at least a superficial understanding of how technology works. We find ourselves having to constantly interpret what it is the Ops team wants for the tools that will help them with their job, guessing and spec'ing a prototype that will hopefully fulfill their needs, then getting it approved by the Ops team, to later find out that it's either not what they wanted or of any use to them.
I think the problem here is 2 fold.
First, Ops people are so caught up with the day-to-day operations that they haven't really had the chance to take a step back and think bigger picture about what it is in terms of software that would actually help them. So they'll tell you they need a tool to solve this immediate problem they're dealing with, we build and build and build only to discover that the root of the problem was actually something else.
The second problem here is that they are lacking a fundamental understanding of code and the engineering process that sometimes they'll request of us features that they think are simple to build for us (when quite the contrary), but doesn't really end up helping themselves much, or neglecting to request features that they think are too complicated and time-consuming but in actuality really easy to build and can materially solve some of their most urgent problems.
And I admit, a lot of this comes down to communication. In the past couple months, I've come to learn that communication is the basis of any effective organization. Margaret J. Wheatly talks about the 3 conditions of efficient self-organizing organizations: identity, information, and relationships. In any effective organization, you must first have the identity. This is the vision of the company, what it is that brings everyone together. The 2nd is information: this is all the facts and data that surround the identity. Without the identity, you will just have collected a bunch of random information without much basis or focus. Then you have the relationships. This is a very key piece here because relationships within an organization dictates the flow of this information. In an organization where information does not flow freely, a CEO could know everything possible about her business and if no one else has access to it, then only one person would be able to harness the value of this information and put it to good use.
As Eric Schmidt details in his book, How Google Works, always default to open. For every bit of information that is legal to share with others, share it. It will only make the company function effectively. And in order for information to flow as freely and unrestricted as possible, there needs to be some mutual understanding of the material at hand. It's like when you and your best friend just get each other, you guys can almost communicate without even saying a single word.
This said, I really do believe that having at least a basic understanding of software will be as critical (if not more critical) in the next several decades as knowing arithmetic, Excel, or English even.
I have no doubt that the foreseeable future is a place where non-technical people (unfortunately) become the hamburger flippers of tomorrow.