For organizations to prosper, IT must reestablish itself as the go-to business partner to optimize technology spending. How can it earn that place?

Armed with a smartphone or a digital camera, everyone thinks they’re a photographer. Given a computer and an Internet connection, many consider themselves “citizen journalists.” It’s no different with technology. In large organizations today, just about anyone with a technology need and a budget thinks he’s a CIO.

It’s even more pronounced when a business unit needs to purchase innovative services quickly. Many groups will simply choose to work around their IT organization rather than with it. For example, an Accenture survey of C-level decision makers revealed that IT does not significantly influence their choice of an “as a service” provider. In fact, 77 percent believe IT lacks the necessary skills for an as-a-service world.

For a long time, most organizations were divided into the technologically elite–who understood the world of code and diagram–and the business users who usually were happy to leave IT decisions to the experts. Now, of course, technology has been integrated into the daily lives of most business people and the trend to systems demystification has increased their comfort level to make technology decisions. Moreover, vendors promise their technology will be easy to use and easy to set up. The very protocols that IT organizations put into place to assure orderly purchases of effective technology and systems integration, now seem like less like enablers and more like impediments to innovation and speedy project development.

The situation is simple: When budgets are tight and time is important, business needs IT and IT needs business. Technology is seldom as simple to integrate or easy to use as it is portrayed. In fact, more than half the organizations surveyed acknowledged that bypassing IT risks security issues, cost overruns and delayed delivery. IT is a revenue user, so when belts are tightened, IT budgets are often affected. On the other hand, business groups produce revenue, so they are more likely to have or better able to wrest the resources for IT purchases that they deem worth funding,

There’s no doubt that IT has to earn its place in most organizations by becoming agile partners to the business groups and demonstrating their value. To make that leap, here are some specific questions to consider:

  • Is IT a cost center or revenue generator?
  • Do you push new technologies/software features?
  • Do you build and release quickly with rapid enhancements?
  • Do you offer fast, multichannel service?
  • How far along are you in building platform-based systems?

In my next post, I will write about some of the important technologies that should be on your radar.

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