Monetizing Your IT Infrastructure
The budget for most organization’s IT infrastructure is viewed as mission critical and money well spent. However, IT within an organization is often viewed as a cost center. The cost center concept means that a department or division adds value to an organization indirectly but does not directly contribute to the top or bottom line. Many organizations that invest heavily in their IT infrastructure are looking for ways to leverage their IT organizations and investments to generate additional revenue. Many IT leaders with a growth mindset are pursuing ways to move from being a cost center to becoming a revenue generating division within the organization. Some IT leaders want to find ways to off-set their IT costs and others are envisioning ways to generate substantial and continuous revenue streams from their investment.
Many companies that are household names have figured out how to capitalize on their organization’s investments to create incredible business and revenue generation advantages. Consider organizations like eBay, Amazon and WayFair where the entire business model is premised upon their ability to develop and maintain a robust IT infrastructure to communicate with their customers, deliver a meaningful and immediate customer buying experience, accept immediate payment, confirm orders and provide shipment updates to their customers on their purchases. Their IT infrastructure supports internal customers (their employee, management and leadership teams) as well as external consumers wanting to purchase their products. As a result, many brick-and-mortar businesses or traditional “big box stores” like Walmart, Best Buy, Target and even grocery stores, are now leveraging their hardware, security and enterprise software IT infrastructures to provide opportunities to generate revenue. Whether these companies are creating purchasing portals, providing updates on shipping and delivery in order to enhance the consumer’s buying experience or creating new lines of business where products can solely be sourced on-line, new revenue generation opportunities are being created and then supported by the IT organization.
Small, medium and even non-traditional enterprises are also finding ways to monetize their IT organization’s investment. Consider hospitals and physician practices that are engaging in tele-health by offering consultations and diagnoses, on-line via web-conferencing/video interfaces, without the need for an in-office visit. This service, which is much more responsive and convenient, still requires billing for their services and time. Legal firms are also engaging in new and innovative ways to leverage their IT infrastructure. Litigation in the United States amounts to over 350,000 cases each year and the number of cases are growing. Legal firms have software that allows them to mine their existing data to prepare for upcoming litigation. Legal firms have a wealth of data and content stored electronically. Many legal firms are now leveraging this information to provide legal documents on-line as well as the sale of subscription services to allow consumers to leverage the volumes of research and data they have compiled over the years for a fee and with minimal interaction with an attorney or para-legal. Additionally, many legal firms are taking a page from the healthcare playbook and providing on-line consultation services either through chat features or video/web conferencing which results in billable hours and fees being paid for immediate access to legal services.
Universities, community colleges and K-12 school districts are leveraging their IT infrastructure to provide on-line/virtual education courses for a fee (tuition) in addition to offering scholarly papers, articles, library services, bookstore services and tutoring all as a convenience for students that creates a substantial revenue base for the organization. In hospitality industries like hotels, advertisers pay the hotel to advertise and sell goods as a partner, offering local spa services, tours and tickets to area events where the hotel collects an advertising fee in addition to a percentage of the sale, leveraging their existing networks to generate revenue.
So, how can an organization begin to monetize their IT infrastructure? Start with the most immediate commodity your organization has since the infrastructure is in place. You can also consider leveraging the talent and services your personnel provide along with the data and information your organization has already created or collected to begin monetizing your IT infrastructure. If there is a way for your organization to reach customers in a virtual way or to provide information, advice, content or services on-line, this can be a very productive first step once a billing and revenue model are developed. Next, consider how to leverage outside advertising that is relevant to your consumer base as many organizations are willing to pay for advertising exposure on your portals or websites in order to reach a wider yet targeted audience. Finally, consider packaging and selling content that has been uniquely created by your organization as either a subscription service or as a pay-per-piece/use service. This is a great way to resell research papers, publications, customized forms and other forms of intellectual property to generate revenue with minimal human intervention.
IT organizations have huge investments in hardware, software, data, storage, analytics, compute power and services. For innovative, cutting edge organizations, IT does not have to be a cost center. Many forward thinking leaders in IT and other industries are considering ways to further engage with their existing customer base and to expand their reach to new consumers interested in the products and services their organization produces. Get out there, think creatively, expand your vision of IT beyond simply being a cost center to being a revenue generating machine. Begin to realize the financial potential the infrastructure you invested so much into is truly capable of producing!
Amy Knower is a visionary, dynamic and growth-minded leader here at ABS Technology. She leverages her extensive IT and education background to provide business, technical and educational leadership.