Are IT departments really in retreat, or evolving into new roles?

Executive advisers say the time is ripe for IT needs to get more deeply involved -- not less -- in users' day-to-day computing activities.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Information technology departments are often portrayed as an enterprise group in retreat. Line-of-business managers are getting bigger technology budgets, end-users are BYODing all over the place, and cloud computing is seen as a the ultimate end-runaround what is seen as slow, "bureaucratic" IT. 

Data Center IBM Research Triangle Park NC-photo courtesy of IBM Media Relations
Photo: IBM Media Relations

But is IT really in retreat, or is it evolving into a whole new mission for the digital enterprise? Let's face it -- ultimately, things cannot function to their maximum effectiveness without IT's knowledgeable guidance and support. You can have thousands of dollars worth of productivity and collaboration tools in your organization, but it's not going to amount to much if employees don't know how to use them.

SharePoint, Google Analytics, and Cognos offer great platforms for increasing business productivity. But who's available to provide the training needed to make these systems perform?

Andrew Horne and Brian Foster, both with CEB, a member-based advisory company, recently dug into a recent survey results and recommends IT take a more proactive role in corporate development. Their recommendations, posted at the Harvard Business Review Blog network, say the value of IT tools and services tend to get lost because employees don't know how to use them.

CEB's surveys show that ability to collaborate and use data in decision-making are the two prime ingredients for career and business success in today's environment. However, only one in five employees can be regarded as "effective network performers," and two in five are adept at sifting through and analyzing data.

IT executives need to step up the plate to better educate end-users on the tools that are available to improve their abilities to compete, say Horne and Foster. As noted in another recent post at this blogsite, IT needs to provide more support and training to the front-end tools and environments -- the end-user touchpoints.

Horne and Foster make the following recommendations:

  • Focus on the functions, not the tools.
  • Make sure teams are ready to collaborate before tools are employed.
  • Hire quants who can coach as well as produce reports.
  • Start with the decision in mind, then pick the tool.
Editorial standards