There is no denying that technology has become pervasive and integral to business and personal lives. No longer can IT be thought of as the “computer guy” who speaks a language most people don’t understand.
IT can’t be solely concerned with “just keeping the lights on” for a business. IT has to claim it’s proper place in business as a partner and not the supporting role it has been relegated to. There are three core concepts that IT must focus on to grow into a mature business partner.
- IT has to become customer centric. Everyone is now a customer of IT and technology professionals need to seize this opportunity to build a relationship with customers out there.
- The implementation and support of technology needs to become proactive versus the traditional reactive model. This would mark a significant change in how the business views technology.
- Technology is there to run businesses, so IT professionals need to engage business partners within and outside the organization.
Nearly every business is a digital/technology business. Whether a high-tech start-up or a century-old construction company, all are becoming increasingly dependent on technology. Finances, business processes and communication are entrenched in tech.
What this means is that virtually everyone is a consumer of technology and a customer of IT in some form or fashion. This represents an exceptional opportunity for IT to engage employees as customers.
To call consumers of technology “users” is a disservice to them and the IT department. IT professionals can gain a lot of credibility by simply engaging with people on a more personal level. Find out what customers need and help them find a solution. The benefits of this type of approach include higher customer satisfaction and engagement.
Running IT in a proactive vs. reactive fashion
“Keeping the lights on” is an important piece of IT. However, it cannot be the main focus of IT going forward. The key to making this transition is to build secure, reliable and consistent infrastructure to support the business. Like any other business unit, if the foundation of the technology platform isn’t sound, then the services and processes built on top of it can’t be truly trusted.
To have confidence in the infrastructure, there needs to be visibility and expertise. IT is very good at collecting data. The key is to discern meaningful information from the data and put that information to use to solve problems before they arise. A quiet help/service desk is a beautiful thing if it is done right.
Thanks to consumerization of technology, most customers view tech no differently than a car, refrigerator or washing machine. They don’t necessarily want to know how those things work, they just want it to work. Deploying technology and infrastructure that is hard to use or unreliable only hurts IT’s mission.
IT must embrace and enhance their product to include visibility into how their products work and are being utilized. New cars today have evolved past GPS systems to relay data in real time to the manufacturer about performance. The car dealer probably knows more about when a car needs service than the owner does. That is planned reliability and consistency. Impact warning sensors, air bags and structural integrity improvements all make the journey that much more secure. A customer’s experience with technology should not be any different.
It is important to invest in the tools and people who can interpret logs files and service tickets to identify points in the infrastructure that need attention or improvement. If a business waits for things to break or become a problem, customer confidence is lost. When a computer doesn’t boot, an app doesn’t run or the network is slow, an employee may think, “This doesn’t happen on my iPad at home!”
Essentially every business in the 21st century is a technology business. Technology and the information it serves is the backbone of any successful business going forward. The keys to IT success going forward will rely on its ability to integrate with and provide a vision for the business.
Focusing on the business goes beyond simply building cases for technology deployment. True business alignment requires that IT understand their business. IT leaders need to educate themselves on business processes including financial, production and customer service.
The future of technology is the future of business. IT leaders have a responsibility to build services that meet the goals and desires of organizations and the people who depend on technology to create, service and consume. The challenge is to build the infrastructure of a new world. It is a monumental challenge, but well worth the effort.