The subtitle to this article says it all: IT isn’t a monolithic cost sink. I support this idea, though I don’t think it’s always accurate. Some companies just want an IT cost sink, where the data processing infrastructure is a utility. It provides a service that’s requested, technology automates specific processes, and that’s it. Certainly many companies think they do more than this, but in reality, IT is just a utility like power or water in many organizations.
However the article points out that an Information Technology department can be so much more. IT can work with the business, improve processes, even provide strategic advantages over your competitors if you structure your environment to do so and allow it to work.
Building a culture that encourages and promotes collaboration between technical and business people takes work. You need to find and nurture technical people that want to work with other people as much as they want to work with computers. It’s great to have highly skilled technical staffers, but you need to ensure they are willing to use their skills to collaborate with business end users.
You also need business people that are willing to work with the technical developers. They need to be excited, and open minded about technology. They have to be willing to think outside the box, understand the limitations of current platforms, and be excited about building something in an iterative fashion with people whose primary focus is on technical work.
I do believe, and have seen, IT groups dramatically increase the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization, but it takes time, and it requires both sides to commit to work together, in a way that ensures each learns from and compromises with, the other.