I’ve chatted before in my podcasts about the changing nature of IT groups within companies and thought I’d write a brief post about this emerging and important trend. Too often, I still find within organizations that IT resources are being purposefully kept as merely “break fix” resources, distant from the realities of the business and intentionally act as blockers rather than enablers to the business. Those organizations allow the IT leadership to perpetuate an older paradigm of IT where they were gatekeepers of technology rather than business partners within the organization, thought police rather than thought leaders.
This dated model of IT has been radically (and thankfully) changing within companies today where IT is viewed as a strategic asset rather than a necessary evil. Progressive IT leaders work hard to make their IT resources champions of innovation within organizations to ensure that business goals and objectives can be supported. We’ve all heard about the “consumerization of IT” – the idea that consumer technology (like iPads) is being brought into organizations and is driving what IT needs to support. This is true, but there is another exciting aspect to this trend. That is the “technifying of consumers“!
By technifying of consumers I mean this, that our end users in organizations are more sophisticated than they were before. They are more technical from the point of view that they leverage technology in numerous ways outside the organization. My strategic approach has always been to learn from my clients or the organization I’ve joined with regard to their business. The end user is always going to know more about the business than an IT person. The end user is the subject matter expert and now that they’ve been technified, as an IT leader I have this wonderful opportunity to recruit them into the strategic IT planning cycle. Today’s end users will brainstorm great ideas to how different technology can be used to enhance their business. That is a fantastic paradigm as it sets up progressive organizations to realize exponential value from IT.
To capitalize on this trend, however, IT leaders need to transform their IT group. You have to create an inviting space for end-users to come to so that they can bring those ideas to the IT team. You also have to evaluate and change your IT processes and procedures so that they are more enabling. Rather than being threatened by end-users and their technology requests, progressive IT teams should be welcoming and look for ways to enable those ideas, not block them. I find it frustrating when inside an organization and I see IT teams hiding behind corporate IT rules (often cloaked under the need for security) so that they can effectively block any good ideas that come from within. Too often companies look to transform their IT groups by simply offshoring the support function for tier one support and having a bunch of runners to handle break fix issues. Sure this reduces costs but does it allow for innovation. In my experience the answer is no.
Instead of embracing that model, or being stuck in the old “IT-against-the-company” paradigm, begin the process to truly change your IT team from “break-fix” people, to thought leaders & enablers. Carry out a strategic organizational redesign where you look to support the people in your company, not just the hardware in your data centre. Done correctly, this new paradigm will unlock untold potential for innovation, yield efficiencies in your business and ultimately give you a greater competitive advantage in the market.