“We are all working together, we all understood the business. Τhat’s the secret”.
Sam Walton, the man who founded Walmart, described with this sentence - a few decades ago - the key to successful organizational leadership.
He explained that within an organization, all sectors need to be aware of what the others are doing and how they are doing it. Also, all departments have to be heavily involved in creating added value and business opportunities. To that, everyone needs a thorough understanding of the business and of the market.
Is this feasible in today’s tech-oriented companies?
Back in the days, the average IT team was a group of “geeks” putting together and maintaining intranet infrastructure for business purposes.
The internet evolution made the same IT teams even geekier, often forcing them to stay locked in a room in order to keep things up and make sure everything runs smoothly.
Nowadays, emerging technologies such as Artificial intelligence, data management, the Internet of Things, have caused significant changes in the way IT teams think and act.
Leave the room. Talk to people!
It turns out, your typical IT team in any organization is now “forced to leave the room”, collaborate with management and other departments, and obtain business knowledge and mindset.
Roles such as CTO, CIO etc. have emerged as a result of this transformation, describing technologists with a strong skill set on business and operations.
These people are the ultimate bridge between an organization’s top management and the computer/server room, often triggering innovation or simply doing critical troubleshooting.
Producing value – Ways to connect with the business side
How do large organizations extract business value from their IT teams today? What are the most effective ways of connecting the business side with the IT side? Let’s take a look at some popular and affecting “tools” all businesses can employ:
- Each time your IT team suggests something, ask them:
How does this technology add value? Why do you expect this IT project to increase revenues or reduce costs?
Organizations can only move forward by training IT personnel to identify technology opportunities and be able to connect the benefits with the business side. Questions like all the above will definitely help you move in the right direction.
Remember, every project should drive positive ROI!
- Hold financial discussions with IT staff
A lot of companies tend to discuss financial issues with IT staff during specific meetings. Τhis practice cultivates a financial growth mindset and provides people with significant knowledge.
Τhis way, new and existing projects go well beyond cables and networks, as IT stuff starts to think about customers, users, marketing, communications etc.
- Μake an IT finance “curriculum” and educate all staff involved.
- Give the team specific performance goals, as it happens with all other business functions who operate on a similar basis.
- Bring people from business into the IT department. Only make sure these people have a clear understanding of the tech infrastructure involved.
Perhaps a simple mix of all the above will be the perfect solution to establishing an IT department with clear business objectives and advanced innovative thinking.
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