How Do You Think About IT?
There seems to be a challenge in the world of business today as it relates to IT. Namely, “How do you define IT within your organization?” With the rapid changes in technology and the changing role of technology within in an organization, most companies are struggling with defining clearly what is expected of IT. So how do you define IT specific to your organization? Below are some thoughts and considerations that might get you moving in making the incredibly important move towards defining what is expected of your technology resources, and how to set expectations for their role in your business.
Aggregator or Implementer? Depending on your current IT consumption model, the differentiation here can be critical. Many business are leveraging hosted or cloud providers to provide their compute/storage needs, either by: hosting hardware, providing dedicated hardware, or by providing raw compute/storage in the cloud. This may be a substantial or minimal percentage. Depending on your specific level of outsourced storage/compute, the expectations of you IT team may vary from fully managing hardware refreshes, maintenance, and configuration to simply monitoring uptime and capacity. The difference and level of overhead as the scale slides can be significant.
Business Differentiator or Enabler? Aside from technical, understanding how your organization views IT/Technology in general is important. Is technology the life blood of your organization for eCommerce, electronic customer interactions, internal communications and card processing, etc.? If you say no, you might want to dive deeper. Do you have a VoIP phone system? What would happen if you lost email for a day? What if you web site went down? Do you leverage any Software as a Service applications (Google Docs, O365, CRM?) What happens if your internet connectivity is lost? In this day and age, most businesses would shut down if their technology fails.
Now take the next step and think about what benefits your organization could gain if you could improve the technology and how you do business by leveraging IT as a differentiator? How much more productivity could you get out of your current workforce or just improve individually? How could you drive more business? When you think in this way, and quantify the gains both in soft and hard costs, you will start moving towards your own unique definition of IT.
IT as a Service? With the influx of applications to businesses, how is your IT organization able to meet the needs of the business as service offering. In the days of old (or maybe even today), IT defined what was available to the business and the applications that run it. What if you shifted your paradigm to view IT as a service consumed by the application owners? In many businesses today, the applications are critical to a business function, and the line of business (LOB) is the expert on how the application should and does function. Given the large number of applications that many businesses leverage, it is resource intensive to have a central unit own and maintain every application. It is likely more efficient to have the application knowledge close the LOB, and have them consume the infrastructure required as service; either virtually or physically.
Where does security reside? If you want to avoid the costs and bad press that security issues can cause your business, security is priority one. However, depending on your size, separating security into its own function can cause procedural and overhead constraints for the business. Thinking of the scope and impact to your business will help you define if security should live, and can be effectively handled, within your IT organization.
The purpose of this post is not to overwhelm, but to start you thinking about what should be one of the biggest concerns in an organization; are we effectively leveraging IT and is it defined within my organization to operate most effectively and help us meet the goals of the business?
Those answers are unique to almost every business, but some common starting points as mentioned above will prove be a great starting point.
Noel Barber is a veteran of the IT industry and serves as the Director of Implementation Technology at ABS. In addition to staying on top of industry trends and changes, Noel works to ensure ABS continuously brings the best Data Center, Enterprise Networking and Collaboration solutions to our clients.