Technology maintains business momentum

In an extract from his book, consultant Terry White looks at the role of IT managers in supporting changes in business needs.

In an extract from his book, consultant Terry White looks at the role of IT managers in supporting changes in business needs.

The supply of information technologies is now to a large degree a generic matter. David Birchell and Laurance Lyons (1995) described a trigger point which was reached in the relationship between business and IT. They suggest that before the mid-1980s businesses needed more from IT than was available. IT people held the upper hand - they were in demand. If you remember, the PC was still a novelty in the late 1970s.

It took until the mid-1980s for PCs to become standard business tools with enough software to meet business and personal needs and with hardware that was getting cheaper by the day.

From that moment onwards, the average businessperson had more computing power in their study at home, compared to that which an in-house IT function was able to provide, and the writing was on the wall for traditional IT methods, organisations and people.

It is a logical conclusion that because the average businessperson's needs are being met in a different way, in-house IT functions must provide services in a different way as well.

They need to provide the management expertise so that the organisation's technology needs are communicated correctly and, more importantly, are met. They also need to ensure that the technologies used by the organisation work together and cut down on the amount of time spent "between systems" translating data and formats and the like.

In terms of managing business momentum, a manager is deeply concerned with availability and stability, but from the organisation's perspective.

They act as agents for the organisation in ensuring technology maintains business momentum, that the services needed are provided by suppliers (whether in-house or outsourced). They select the suppliers, brief them on requirements and manage the delivery of IT services.

I have seen one government organisation that tried this and got it woefully wrong. Their business momentum managers became gatekeepers rather than agents and succeeded in slowing IT delivery processes to a crawl.

So the difference is that the business momentum manager makes a commitment to the organisation and they then manage the delivery of their commitment.

Ultimately, the IT service provided by whomever they use is their measure of success or failure. They live and die by service.

So "business momentum management" through the provision of IT services is what drives business momentum managers. They are passionate about: availability and stability; operations and efficiency; management of IT services; asset management; supporting business momentum and IT availability and stability.

Once they are sure their IT processes are effective and are being followed by their suppliers, they keep an eye on efficiency; and by definition the cost of providing IT services becomes an issue. They act as guardians of the organisation's IT spend on IT services needed to maintain momentum.

What Business Really Wants From IT, by Terry White, is part of the Computer Weekly Professional Series

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