IT Management: IT - The core, the core, the core

It has been said before, but it’s truer than ever: IT is the core of business activity as a driver, a facilitator and a solution.

Romi Mahajan

Repetition—for both rhythm and emphasis—is a well-known way to reinforce an idea. Every real estate agent will tell you that property value is about “location, location, location.” The great pianist Arthur Rubinstein, when approached by a man asking him how to get to Carnegie Hall, is famously said to have responded, “Practice, practice, practice.” Controversial General Douglas MacArthur always referred to “the Corps, and the Corps, and the Corps” when discussing his final thoughts upon his demise.

Everyone involved in both business and IT today needs to understand that the heart of business is IT. We can therefore say IT is “the core, the core, the core.” This notion—that today IT powers business—is often misunderstood because IT has been relegated to the wrong side of perception by almost everyone in the corporation. Instead of thinking of IT as a value and productivity generator, people tend to think of it as simply consuming resources. IT is thereby subjected to the vagaries of business cycles and of the blame game that so frequently defines the culture of corporate America today.

This has to stop. If we are ever to truly understand the role of IT in the enterprise and the possibilities a dynamic IT strategy can unleash, then we have to banish the misconceptions forever. To do so, it’s important to list the misconceptions with which we want to do away:

  • Misconception No. 1: IT is the province of geeks who are disconnected from the process of generating revenue, profit and results.
  • Misconception No. 2: IT is “good” when it’s silent. Think of it as out of sight, out of mind.
  • Misconception No. 3: IT sequesters itself from the rest of the company because IT professionals believe in working in isolation.
  • Misconception No. 4: IT doesn’t understand its customers.
  • Misconception No. 5: IT is a drag on company resources, a cost center that consumes resources without generating equivalent value.

Now, revisiting the idea that IT is indeed the core, let’s offer a counterpoint to each of those misconceptions:

  • Counterpoint No. 1: IT powers the single biggest asset in any modern enterprise—the productivity of its employees. The notion that the foundational elements of productivity are somehow disconnected from the generation of revenue and results is ludicrous.
  • Counterpoint No. 2: Great IT can be highly visible IT. Innovation is noisy and disruptive and great IT is innovative. IT introduces new devices, new systems and new ways of doing things as or more often than any other division within the enterprise.
  • Counterpoint No. 3: IT professionals, in fact, work less in isolation than many other parts of the company. If one considers all the users of IT (the entire employee population) as the customers of IT, then the typical IT professional speaks to more customers in a day than anyone outside of the sales and marketing staff.
  • Counterpoint No. 4: IT adjusts to customer needs every day. In order to fulfill its set of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with its customers, IT solicits feedback and acts on it during almost every interaction.
  • Counterpoint No. 5: IT generates value because it’s a necessary part of the value supply chain. If you remove IT, you remove productivity. This is tantamount to having any revenue-generation activity grind to a halt.

Relegating myths is step one in the work of giving IT its due as the core of business today. Step two is describing why businesses are indeed IT-centric.

  • Core Principle No. 1: IT powers productivity, which in turn powers the very essence of the corporate mission. As people look to perform their jobs as efficiently as possible and continue to increase their output with increasingly limited resources and time, IT plays the critical role in enabling this process.
  • Core Principle No. 2: IT enables collaboration, connection and cooperation. As businesses become more far-flung and global, IT creates the potential for coalescence and focus that any company needs to succeed. The ability for people without physical proximity (or in different divisions or levels in the hierarchy) to work in lockstep with each other is truly powered by IT.
  • Core Principle No. 3: IT enables scale. As companies expand and connect with increasing numbers of customers, partners, and an increasingly widespread workforce, IT-enabled systems emerge as the only way to communicate and transact with these parties at scale.
  • Core Principle No. 4: IT enables insights. With the massive uptick in the amount of data produced and in need of analysis, all businesses have to rely on IT systems to predict, correlate and make associated decisions based on data. IT’s role in business intelligence analysis is fundamental to the future of any company.

So this is why everyone involved in both business and IT needs to embrace IT and understand its role as the core of contemporary business. To move business ahead, we must continue to move IT and business ahead in sync.

Romi Mahajan

Romi Mahajan* is president of KKM Group. Prior to joining KKM, Mahajan was chief marketing officer of Ascentium Corp. A well-known speaker on the technology and media circuit, he serves on a variety of advisory boards and speaks at more than a dozen industry events per year.*