Group of people in boardroom discussing IT and their business

IT and technology. I think everyone would agree that in today’s business world they are critical to the success of an organization, or at least you would think so. I travel around the country speaking with business owners or the employees in charge of technology resources for their company. It is at times surprising the perspective they have of IT and the role it has in the success of their organization.

Let’s look at the roles and some of the responsibility that IT has within your business. The primary responsibility to your organization starts with three basic areas. However, when you think about the role of IT within your business, you have to remember it is the Business of IT.  Yes, it is a business. And the decisions that you make regarding IT can be long lasting and have a financial impact on your business for years to come.

  • Governance:The governance model is based on IT providing an operational parameter for departments and operational units that utilized the network and devices on the network. Governance also refers to providing a workflow model that integrates business rules that would include security, data assurance, and management of the network in compliance with software rules and industry standards.
  • Infrastructure: Infrastructure is the hardware component of the Business of IT. There can be many layers of an operation depending on the configuration of your network. Which in today’s world might have to include the use of cloud-based technologies, mobile technologies, and remote or home base users. However, when you take into consideration from a hardware perspective what it takes to run a network you can’t overlook the complexity of how these systems all work together to provide a productive environment for your employees.
  • Functionality: The most visible area of technology management is functionality. These areas would include application availability, software development, data awareness, data backups, disaster recovery, and business continuation.  In most cases this is the area that effect end users the most. Business owners must ask themselves “Are systems allowing employees to work in a productive manner and is the data safe and secure?”

 

Risk awareness and mitigation is another area that seems to be overlooked when it comes to the role that IT plays within your business. When you look at risk you have to look at preventable risks, strategy risks, internal risks, and external risks. Many preventable risks are associated with poor corporate habits that are typically known but go unaddressed. For example: Cultural. Wanting an open and friendly work environment, or acceptance because the ownership doesn’t view the risk as something that would cause severe damage to the organization. Preventable risks often go on for years because of the lack of budget allocated to mitigate the risk until the inevitable happens and the risk becomes a litigation action instead of an inconvenience.

Strategy risks are based around an organization voluntarily accepting risks because they perceive it as worth the effort.  According to the Wall Street Journal, a survey asked many

C-Level individuals “What they viewed as the biggest strategy risks in the future?” The top responses included:

  • Overconfidence bias: This has many factors when it comes to IT. Executives can overestimate their own knowledge and ability. But a higher risk is that they overestimate the ability, knowledge and expertise of those they have entrusted to oversee the IT operations of their business. I have written many times on the risk of having the wrong individuals managing or overseeing IT and have seen the impact of these decisions on the company.
  • Availability bias: This is when a C-Level individual puts an overrated likeliness or importance on things they have read or seen on television. Not considering the reality of the overall impact of a good story verses the reality of the risk expected.
  • Confirmation bias: This is when an executive wants to make the information fit based on their beliefs instead of new factual information and realizing the impact that information is going to have on preset expectations around risk and IT management.
  • Optimism bias: This is seemingly the riskiest of all. Thinking that things will simply work out as intended. When it comes to managing IT, this can be risky and expensive.

 

Are you treating IT as a cost of doing business? If so, you are not doing your business any favors. The ever-changing technology landscape means that you have to pay attention to the role of IT. The expertise that it takes to manage and run IT as part of your business. Not a cost of doing business. The Business of IT is something that can take years to learn. It is an ongoing educational growth model as business and technology change. IT has turned itself into a very specialized business and part of that specialization is the overall management of IT. It needs to be based on the business, not the nuts and bolts of IT. If you consider IT a cost of doing business, then you will lose the edge of using technology as weapon of competitiveness in the market place.

 

By Scott M. Lewis, President / CEO Winning Technologies, Inc.

About the Author: Scott Lewis is the President and CEO of Winning Technologies Group of Companies. Scott has more than 30 years of experience in the technology industry and is a nationally recognized speaker and author on technology subjects. Scott has worked with large and small business to empower them to use technology to improve work processes, increase productivity, and reduce costs. Scott has designed thousands of systems for large, medium and small companies and Winning Technologies goal is to work with companies on the selection, implementation, management and support of technology resources.