The evolution of IT has been a fast journey, and something of a wonder to witness. You see, we have come from far, from the age of the mainframes to the current era where SMAC – social, mobile, analytics and cloud systems carry the day. However, one thing that has remained constant is the disdain that other departments in a company pay to the IT department, thinking that it adds no business value to the company.
But is that right? At what level of evolution and growth does IT start adding business value?
IT has to add value to a business, otherwise you might as well scrap it away and forget about it or just hire an external team to fix or keep an eye on things. I mean, what is the use of having an educated and highly paid IT guy running around fixing network cables? That would be a huge mistake. Every company needs an IT team that can add business value.
The different levels of evolution of IT departments
IT departments in different companies are never at the same level. Some are too far evolved while others are at the rudimentary levels. Depending on the level of evolution of the IT department of your company, the business value added will be high or low.
Simply put, the evolution of IT teams goes through 4 levels of growth. The higher the level, the higher the business value that is added to the company.
First level of growth
At the very basic level of the evolution of IT departments, the IT team does not really add any business value to the company. Rather, it just seems to manage IT and does not contribute much to the changes happening within the company. At this level, the IT department will hardly be involved in the business decisions of the company. In fact, at this level, the IT people are looked down upon by others. However, does this mean that the IT department at the first stage of evolution is useless? Of course not, it is just that no one feels its impact then.
The second level
With time, more investment and growth, the IT department will grow from level one to level two – a step ahead! At this level, the IT department is involved in bringing change to the company because it focuses mainly on implementing important projects to their completion. This is where the impact of IT starts to be felt in the company. This is where the other departments think … “to achieve this or that, we have to have the IT people”.
At the third level
At the third level, there is noticeable growth. This is where the IT department is actually a service manager and has greater impact in the company, one that cannot be ignored. As a service manager, the IT department employs customer-oriented approaches to deliver high value services to the customers and to help the company build a good relationship with all customers. This is where the IT department will be focused entirely on the customers’ or users’ needs rather than on the IT structure.
The fourth level
IT departments that are in the fourth and last level of evolution are those that have managed to build relationships with all the other departments of the company like customer service, production department, senior management, human resource, accounting and so on. IT becomes the focal point; the central point around which everything else revolves. At this stage, you would be right to assume that the business would not run effectively without IT.
At level 4, the IT team is highly reputed in the company and it will be involved in making decisions that will bring value. In this case, IT runs in the very veins of the company, and it is not just one part of the company like the other departments. It affects every operation in the company! They can be trusted with complex projects and they will deliver on them without fear of failure. They will also be involved in many initiatives, the IT team is respected and is always on top of the changes happening in the IT world and implements what is necessary for the business.
Given the resources and the time to evolve, IT can turn out to be of immense value to the business, making possible processes that will bring monetary value.