Many years ago, business managers didn’t understand IT managers. Consequently, the isolated IT manager, distanced from board decisions and strategy, often worked to an agenda that had little bearing on business priorities. This “business-IT gap” between business objectives and IT strategy was costly and resulted in legendary projects where millions were wasted on IT resources that did not align with business requirements.
How times have changed. Today, at a time when digital transformation is driving unprecedented business efficiencies, the CTO has become a close ally with the CEO in terms of enabling business growth.
The gap is back
It would appear that business and IT managers have never been closer but the evidence of surveys* over recent years suggests that the truth is quite different. The IT-business gap is back.
It is claimed that the source of this backward step resides in digital transformation. A wave of new applications and productivity solutions has placed huge pressures on IT managers, taking workload capacity to breaking point.
Ironically, it is the closeness of business-IT relationship built over the past decade that has now come back and bitten the IT manager where it hurts – resources. Business managers now “get it” when it comes to the benefits of digitisation and automation, and they want it yesterday.
Overlooked, though, is the fact that IT has a second role maintaining existing infrastructure that, boring as it may be by comparison to digitisation projects, always has been and always will be critical to business continuity. These tasks demand priority, particularly when things go wrong. When this happens, the strategically-aligned digitisation project makes way for the helpdesk cry for help and, suddenly, the IT-business gap opens fractionally.
Closing the gap
Resourcing to fulfil digitisation is a chicken-and-egg problem where the cycle can be broken only by two solutions. The simplest is to throw money at it but, faced with an uncertain economy, intentions to increase IT budgets are still low. A more feasible solution is to spread the IT workload across the business, getting employees and business administrators to undertake simple tasks whist keeping control with the IT manager.
By capitalising on the broader understanding of IT technology that exists through the organisation today, the IT manager can assign simple administrative IT tasks to employees, delegating time-consuming jobs and taking pressure off resources whilst still retaining overall control.
Already, businesses are adopting this strategy using different approaches. For example, some companies are “planting” IT professionals in business departments on an interim basis to provide advice and training on tap and to encourage employees to take control of simple upgrading, configuration or troubleshooting tasks.
For some departments that are heavy users of business applications, this catalyst has been unnecessary. In the marketing department, for example, Gartner has predicted that current CMO spend of 3.25 per cent of revenue is set to exceed CTO spend in 2017, currently 3.4 per cent of revenues.
This extraordinary result has been accomplished in part by the availability of some 4000 applications on the market, designed to drive digital marketing processes. Marketing IT expenditure on these applications and associated technology has been encouraged by the affordable pricing model of cloud services, combined with the relative simplicity of installing and using the applications.
Implications for the SME
At Foehn, we are doing our bit too, particularly for SMEs where, as with so many things, the impact of business challenges is magnified.
By creating our cloud comms systems with controls designed for the employee and business manager, as well as the IT administrator, we create time for the IT person whilst giving users a more responsive, self-service capability. Cloud-based service and design simplicity are, again, instrumental in achieving this.
Our new system, Voxivo, incorporates both aesthetic and ergonomic design features that give an intuitive and simple user experience for the business employee. Equally, automated provisioning and insightful analytics deliver the time-saving control needed by the IT manager.
In this way, we hope to inspire users to participate in communications management, relieving the IT manager of workload to do bigger things.
(*The 2017 State of the CIO report by CIO.com)
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