This one simple question presented to your Company’s Senior Management would no doubt garner a plethora of eventual responses including (but certainly not limited to) security, connectivity, general support, application expertise and data reporting.
It’s fair to say that your IT Department already provides a full line of services so one might expect to hear a wide range of answers.
Let’s also assume that most services are being delivered to acceptable levels already. The more revealing insight however may be that most if not all the answers would be linked primarily to internal employee productivity. Not a surprise, of course, but could IT be utilized in more aspects across the value chain?
Exploring this idea further could be the first step in recognizing untapped capability within your organization.
Consider this: Mature IT Departments are uniquely designed if not innately formed to simply deliver day in and day out no matter what. IT embodies and views attributes such as innovation, agility, adaptability and creativity as absolute necessities to success. There probably isn’t a single process, function or group that IT doesn’t interact with on a regular basis which in turn offers them a holistic view into the business.
There probably isn’t a single process, function or group that IT doesn’t interact with on a regular basis. This in turn offers them a holistic view into the business.
To this end the strategies, methodologies and more importantly the people used to deliver IT services are likely ripe to extend (if not embed directly) into other areas of the Business Value Chain. IT resources could be poised to partner, and in some cases, even lead innovation and transformation efforts in areas such as Supply Chain and Inventory Management, Procurement, Business Development, Customer Relationship Management, Accounting & Finance, HR, Sales and Marketing.
So why don’t more companies realize and exploit these potential synergies?
There are multiple reasons but I believe two invariably stand out: First, the still prevalent idea that IT is seen simply as a service provider or at best a business process enabler. Secondly and probably in direct correlation is that IT and the Business often don’t know how to communicate with each other effectively. Combine these two challenges with the constant struggle for everyone to just “keep their heads above water” and you have a recipe for misunderstood and underdeveloped engagement.
So my advice to business stakeholders: Reach out, engage and ask for more than just another tool from your IT department. Convey your metrics and anticipated outcomes and expect shared accountability for achieving them.
For my fellow IT leaders: Break out of your comfort zone, be transparent, continuously develop your business acumen and communicate your ideas.
Bottom line? Strive to be a business professional first who happens to know a LOT about technology. Ultimately, when either side isn’t afraid to fall down because they know the other is eager to help them up, great things can be accomplished.
Joel Wolfe is Vice President of Information Services at J-W Energy Company and a member of the [BE] Midmarket CIO Forum Advisory Board.