4 Reasons Why IT Matters More Than Ever

The argument that IT no longer matters has resurfaced. In this age of consumerization, BYOD and the cloud, IT departments are, in fact, vital to any business, able to create value and sort the wheat from the chaff as stakeholders eye new investments or money-saving ideas.

By Jonathan Hassell
Wed, July 25, 2012

CIO — Ashlee Vance at Bloomberg BusinessWeek has declared that, after 10 years, IT simply doesn't matter. He's basing his current premise on the original conclusion reached back in 2003 by Harvard Business Review's Nick Carr, who essentially argued that IT has become a commodity, a place where an increase in dollars spent represents no correlation in increased business result. Essentially, IT is a department to minimize whenever possible. "The point is, however, that&technology's potential for differentiating one company from the pack—its strategic potential—inexorably declines as it becomes accessible and affordable to all," Carr wrote nine years ago.

Although it's impossible to know for sure, Ashlee might have been the victim of an overzealous headline writer. However, Carly "Let's Make Everyone's Cubicle Two Feet Shorter" Fiorina, the old chief of Hewlett Packard got it right when saying that Carr was, in fact, "dead wrong"—and everyone glomming on to that Carr-Vance sound bite is wrong, too.

Why? Consider the following four reasons.

1. Despite Outsourcing, IT Remains Important.

Just because a company chooses to outsource parts of its information technology investments to other providers doesn't mean IT doesn't stay relevant internally. A team still has to be a guide. Who selects these vendors? Who comes up with the jargon necessary to translate business requirements into technical mandates? Who sorts through the requests for proposals? Who monitors the market for outsourcing, keeps track of pricing and adds and removes services as necessary?

Case Study: IT Roles Shift with Move to Cloud

No team is in a better position to integrate the true value of technology across the entire business than IT. No team can better drive business results, via the profit and loss statement, across the entire business through the value created and costs reduced via smart computing.

2. Eliminate Busywork, and IT Can Create Value.

As a CIO or someone in your technology department, you well know how much time is spent reacting to situations. This application is down. Internet access is slow. It's time to manage a desktop operating system refresh. You need to buy a new SAN appliance because you're bringing up more virtualized servers. There's a lot of busywork.

Imagine if, instead, your IT department could focus on writing a new point of sale system for your stores. What if you could assist your marketing department in putting out a killer mobile application for smartphones? Perhaps you could find a way to bill customers for a service you've never thought of. In these scenarios, IT becomes a business partner, not just a cost center. IT can now focus on creating real, true business value, not just on caring for and feeding boxes with blinking lights. That's important. That's game changing. And that's entirely relevant.

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