I’m writing these words in Denver International Airport. It’s 8:50pm. My flight, scheduled to leave for Minneapolis an hour ago, is delayed until 10:20pm.

Last week I wrote unkind words about the International Air Transport Association and the airline industry in general. They wouldn’t stoop this low to get revenge. Would they?

This isn’t another diatribe about the IATA, although I do have one more suggestion: Instead of tinier carry-on bags it might consider setting a seat engineering standard. What it is: Movable seats and a pay-by-the-inch ticket price. Pick your seat, pick your legroom, and seat spacing dynamically and automatically adjusts to fit.

Okay, there are probably less expensive ways to achieve the same goal, but this would be really cool, don’t you think?

Speaking of preferring really cool for cheaper solutions that achieve the same ends, how much is your Marketing Department spending on social media analytics to find out what your customers are saying about your products and services?

I’m not saying this is a bad investment. Far from it, although I’m far from unbiased. My employer, Dell, has been a pioneer in mining the social web to understand what customers are saying — so much so that Dell Services offers this as one of its consulting specialties.

So: Want to understand what your customers are saying about you? Great idea. Using analytics to do so? Call me.

But before you invest another dime in social media analytics, with us or anyone else, start with a cheaper, easier, and more reliable data source: Customer Service.

Customer Service is the Rodney Dangerfield of business departments. It gets no respect. Way too often its key metric is minimizing the cost per call, and as a result it’s too-often the place your customers go to be turned into your competitors’ customers.

It could and should be a lot more: The place Product Management goes to find out how to perfect your company’s products, and where Marketing goes to turn dissatisfied customers into your company’s best social media evangelists.

Once upon a time there were two semi-reasonable excuses for not doing this. The first was organizational: Customer Service doesn’t usually report to either Marketing or Product Management. I lied about it being a semi-reasonable excuse

The second was that it would have been way too labor intensive, a matter of listening to a statistically significant sample of all of those calls that are “recorded for quality assurance purposes.”

Which isn’t exactly untrue, merely too-limited an explanation. They’re recorded to improve the quality of the Customer Service department, not of the products Customer Service services.

Okay, I lied about that being a semi-reasonable excuse, too, because the only labor needed would have been to ask every Customer Service agent to forward links to the recordings of those calls Marketing and Product Management might find useful.

But imagine this isn’t feasible for some reason. This is, what, 2015? And you’re what, IT? Have you got a deal for them.

See, in 2015 all those recorded-for-quality-purposes conversations between customers and customer service representatives are digital data, and the technology for transcribing them to text isn’t all that expensive. It isn’t perfectly accurate, but you don’t need perfectly accurate. You need accurate enough.

Accurate enough for what? For mining the text, of course. You don’t even need a lot of sophistication to mine it. Mostly you need a list of key words and phrases Marketing and Product Management can use to draw inferences.

This isn’t rocket science. It isn’t even data science. Yes, it’s a couple of blocks outside IT’s comfort zone of databases, screens and reports, but this being 2015 and all, any IT department that limits itself to databases, screens and reports is limiting itself to the ante in a game of winner-take-all poker. And any CIO who waits until Marketing or Product Management asks for something like this has mistaken the job for order taker at Denny’s all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet.

Why does this even have to be said?

The tragedy of IT history took place in the early 1980s, when CIOs believed the so-called thought-leaders who told them IT’s job was to be “business-driven” and as a result stopped doing their best to drive the business.

News flash: The ’80s are over. They’ve been over for 35 years. From this point forward (the only direction worth heading), the CIO’s job … and not only the CIO, but the job of everyone in IT … is suggesting ways technology can address business situations, not waiting for the phone to ring.

It isn’t that the phone won’t ring. It most assuredly will.

It will just be someone else’s phone.