Overcoming the IT Gap in your Business – April 2014
As companies continue to innovate and strive to develop competitive advantages over their competitors, technology has become increasingly important in every area of the business. In the past, the vision for development and deployment of technology resources has traditionally been centered in Information Technology groups in companies. For the past several years, we have seen a significant shift in the penetration of technology (needs and uses) in all other areas of businesses outside of IT, which has created a significant gap between these business groups and their corresponding IT counterparts. These business groups have developed a common theme of frustrations. IT groups have become known for slow innovation, a lack of understanding of the business, and inefficient and unresponsive delivery timelines. On the other side, IT departments are feeling de-prioritized with little input into the direction of technology development, frustrated over shifting priorities, and rushed to deliver quality solutions under short timelines with very little preparation and foresight. This is the IT gap, and it is becoming an increasing problem for businesses of all sizes and industries.
Both sides of the IT gap tend to agree that inefficient utilization of information technologies is a net negative. And as the pace of technology development and innovation increases, the IT gap will continue to become more prevalent and reach into all business areas. There are some common problems that have become endemic in company systems and processes that need to change to help close this gap. First, IT departments are brought into technology discussions far too late in the process. Business groups typically think of IT as implementers rather than strategists, so they tend to bring solutions to the table with a decision that is already made rather than bringing IT into the loop early on as advisors. Second, business groups tend to shorten their technology planning based around quarterly or annual performance goals which can leave an IT group with insufficient runway to be able to implement a solution properly. Many good IT solutions can start by being painful to the business, and these departments often need the patience and support of the business group to achieve a successful outcome. Third, IT departments are historically considered cost or support centers not critical to the overall direction of the company. As each business group relies more heavily on technology to be competitive, IT should be seen as a trusted supplier of strategy and services rather than a cost center tasked to perform a service to the business.
Overcoming these three problems will help companies stay ahead of the technology curve and avoid the tough tradeoffs that every company is forced to make on a regular basis. Collaboration between business groups, IT groups, and company leadership is essential to accomplishing high utilization of company data, effectively adjusting technology priorities, and making informed business decisions that have a positive impact on the company as a whole. IT departments should be seen as a partner critical to this mission, and companies who ignore this fact will continue to lag behind their competitors in every facet of their business.
- Ryan Neal, President
Blueprint Consulting Services