Traditionally, IT departments had all the power when making decisions regarding IT investments. And yet, we are now starting to see a shift from the traditional model, with head of business functions becoming the lead decision-maker role in over 50% of those investments. Those in charge of customer-facing functions such as sales or customer services are becoming increasingly involved in selecting the right IT to improve productivity within their specific business processes. So with this change occurring where does this leave IT?
In order to rise up the management hierarchy, IT should look to improve the IT-business relationship all the while developing a new, more powerful business voice. IT Executives work in a highly dynamic inter-connected world and constantly face new challenges, but need to move away from purely implementing IT projects to becoming ‘trusted advisors’ by helping to outline areas IT can support the business more strategically. By doing this IT can help become more involved in the business vision whilst facilitating increased business productivity and efficiency. IT needs to ensurethey have the right mix of collaboration solutions in place to help their enterprises become more “customer-centric” whilst stilldealing with the basics and keeping IT services running smoothly. By spending some time on customer related activities and functions in the business, IT can gain valuable insights on how technology can play a bigger part in its business processes around customer communications. By providing the ability for the enterprise to connect to both its internal and external customers, IT can deliver valuable insights and intelligence.
The increase in connected devices, from smartphones to smart buildings, means that the average enterprise is dealing with an unprecedented amount of data. In this connected world IT have access to masses of analytics and business intelligence - this can be the speed of production cycles, processing orders, or downtime of equipment. But data alone is not enough; it is the ability to harness andinterpret big data to rapidly inform decision-makers that’s important. IT needs to be able to translate the analysis into actions and insights for the business functions so it can be used to identify potential productivity gains for the business. At a board level, good data analysis can provide the insight and foresight needed to make strategic business decisions.. IT and the business must work together to convert data into analytics they can articulate and present to the board. It is also here that IT can play a key role in measurement of operational efficiency to help optimize productivity.
With the help of a seasoned and trusted IT department, businesses can easily adapt to the increased speed of change and complexity that mark today's competitive and economic landscape. Here’s six ways IT can move from the back office to the boardroom:
- Move from a physical to a digital infrastructure. The advent of cloud-based solutions and digital infrastructures allow employees to be productive from anywhere, anytime and play a huge role in reducing business overheads, contributing to increased profitability. Technologies such as virtualisation have only served to increase the effectiveness of digital infrastructures.
- Become a strategic leader. The IT function as a whole and the CIO in particular will need to become educators. They need to be able to advise the organisation around governing services, from the board level down to the office floor, the best cohesive and unified IT infrastructure to maintain a to help grow the business.
- Utilise integrated solutions to solve business process issues. The integration of solutions into the actual business processes is key to improving productivity and ensuring employee adoption of new technologies. Identify the best collaboration and communication tools for each LOB. For example, sales and customer services benefit hugely from video communication with customers and partners, as the face-to-face element helps them ensure effective communications and ultimately satisfied customers.
- Be a data translator to enable productivity measurement. At a board level, good data analysis can provide the insight and foresight needed to make strategic business decisions and the CIO will need to be able to present this to the board.
- Build a location independent collaboration strategy. Work is no longer somewhere we go, but something we do. In order for business to remain innovative they need to priorities collaboration. A unified communications environment will significantly aid the drive for collaboration, as it makes it simple for employees to use the best communications channel for the job by collating all of them in one user-interface.
- Be a technology evangelist to get the board on board. Not every LOB will be prepared to fully integrate new technologies into their business processes. CIOs need to build an environment where IT is a key consideration in any business decision, and LOBs approach IT for consultancy at the inception of projects. This means collaborating at a board level to create this new way of working.