IT is not a service organization
I’m going to shock and possibly offend you (for certain values of “you”): IT is not a service organization. Wait, the title of the page already says that. Oops. In the olden days, IT may have been “just” a service organization, but that hasn’t been true for a long time (even before I got involved in IT over 10 years ago). What is IT? IT is your company’s secret weapon. IT is the resource everyone overlooks. The IT Department is your strongest Business Partner.
All too often I’ve seen IT departments get treated as a third rate corporate citizen. They’re a cost center, and arguably a quite costly one at that (for small companies especially). IT departments, like HR, also tend to have a difficult time proving their worth in hard numbers, or KPIs as they are also known. It bothers me because I’m a passionate technologist. I love technology and all the wonderful things it can do for our lives. My job, and that of my team, is to use technology to make everyone’s life better. My goal is to try and make all of the technology fade into the background and require no thought from the average person. With a little bit of persistence, technology can be your best tool, a great enabler to getting more done faster and better.Your run of the mill IT guy (or gal) spends a lot of time keeping up-to-date with all the latest trends, technologies, gadgets, and clouds. Ever notice how you can ask a good techy about nearly any problem and figuratively watch their mental gears spin? They dive in head first and come back a short time later with a solution that you, often, didn’t even know was possible. Take that concept from a small scale (e.g. “How can I get my pictures from my phone to my computer?”) and imagine the applications on a corporate level.
What if you had a group that you could explain your problems to (not your solutions, your problem) and ask if they’ve got a technical solution? Wouldn’t it be amazing to let them kick around ideas for a day or two and come back with a solution you didn’t know was even possible? Maybe it is easier or more realistic than you thought possible? Even better, what if it was cheaper/faster than you thought? Of course you’d love that.This partner already exists in your business, it’s called “Information Technology” and it’s filled with people that love to solve technology problems. The trick is letting them out “of the basement” (so to speak) and accepting that they, like any department, come with some eccentricities. Most of the IT people I’ve met are adults that you can safely include in meetings without embarrassment. Give them information and they’ll give you new and creative ways to use technology.
It has been my pleasure to read resumes and interview numerous IT people. The standout best people are always those whom will chat away with you all day about whatever technical bits get brought up. They’ll ask you questions as to what you use for X, Y, or Z systems, and provide their commentary on what has worked well (and not so well) for them in similar circumstances. They are problem solvers and technology lovers to the core. Given half a chance they WILL solve any and every problem put in front of them. The limiting factors are the same for IT as they are for any other group – time and money.On the other hand, if you’re feeling retro you could treat your Information Technology group as a glorified printer repair department. They’ll fix the printers and spend their days providing very little in the way of strategic value for the company. Clearly this is just one IT Manager’s opinion. Maybe I’ve covertly assembled all the IT intelligentsia in the world and what I’ve proposed would only work for my company. But then again, what cost is there for you to email your IT department and ask for their input on your next project?