Be ‘The Business’

No longer is IT a silo, staffed primarily based on technical ability, but IT becomes a horizontal organization, influencing and providing direct expertise rather than the former passive customer service model.

The second trick to being the business is a change in mindset. Old ideas about serving “customers” and attempting to be a passive shared service should be rendered outmoded. IT is just as legitimate a part of the organization as finance or marketing, and creating this artificial subordinate relationship does nothing to help IT’s position within the company.

As already mentioned, customer service is a passive business, and a successful IT organization should be anything but passive. You must avoid the urge to simply put a veneer on the problem by applying fancy new vocabulary to the same old attitudes; rather IT must see its relationship with the rest of the organization as one of equals.

IT may have to expand its knowledge of business functions, but it will be rewarded with increased exposure and influence throughout the organization. IT projects will also become collaborative efforts, rather than being perceived as an annoyance that must be tolerated by the rest of the corporation.

In its dealings throughout the organization, IT can no longer act as a messenger, capturing requirements and relaying them to developers, rather IT should help determine how a business process can best be facilitated through technology. IT is no longer in the customer service business, but now in the process reengineering business.

By playing a more active role throughout the organization, IT will begin to see opportunities for improvement or use of existing technologies and processes in other areas of the company. Instead of slogging through the latest requests from “them,” IT can instigate a collaborative effort to improve the company.

If your IT organization can truly be the business, the CIO is vaulted from a maintenance position to a leader who can both execute and provide the vision to improve the organization, a combination that is both indispensable and far more interesting than waiting for the latest customer service challenge.

Patrick Gray is the founder and President of Prevoyance Group, located in Harrison, NY. Prevoyance Group provides strategic IT consulting services. Past clients include Gillette, Pitney Bowes, OfficeMax and several other Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. Patrick can be reached at [email protected].