I walked into a meeting with a senior executive who brought us in to solve issues their IT department were trying to overcome.  The simplified request was, “I want to walk into the office in the morning and for it to work, like turning on the light switch and the light turns on.”  This is a very understandable ask but the response has been changing over the past couple decades.

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When Information Technology came to the business table in the 90s, it was very straightforward requests, we want our computer to turn on, print, and if we were lucky, connect to the internet through a dial up modem.  As the internet grew in size and businesses became dependent on it’s access, the ask of the IT department grew as well.

Most IT departments are expected to not only ensure the computers function, print, and connect to the internet but store important files, keep hackers out, backup key systems, manage email systems, provide video conferencing, hosting web services, orchestrate systems managing production devices, and anything else that falls under the umbrella of technology.

So, why can’t the IT department just make it work?  They can.  First you could have very different definitions of ‘make it work’ from varying teams within the IT department and secondly, you are allowing a great resource to go untapped in your organization.

Over the past decade, the technologies under IT have gone from ‘working’ to having different flavors of ‘working.’  They are no longer a utility that offers a one dimensional level of support.  From how your organization collaborates to prioritizing systems and services, the IT department can really be an influential voice at the business table.

The engineers within your IT department often know of many emerging technologies and shifts in products that can help the operations of the business get to the next level. Bringing business problems to their awareness allows them to provide feedback on not only decisions on how much RAM to have in a new server upgrade but which software solutions can not only solve the problem but ease and speed up the workflow.

An example would be surrounding a place to back up important documents to include policies and emergency procedures. If the decision was made at an executive level and told to be carried out by the IT department to simply create a server to store data where the files are manually copied by the user to this server, it could be done. If the IT department was brought in on the issue, likely a document repository solution like Microsoft Sharepoint would be recommended (perhaps in the cloud). This would not only allow for these documents to be ‘backed up’ to Sharepoint, they could live in Sharepoint and allow for multiple users to be making changes to the same document, keep version histories, be checked in and out for offline modifications and then even become embedded in an internal policy website for all employees to access.

Creating an environment in which a representative from IT is at the decision making table allows them to better set up the systems to support your business initiatives and allows them to offer solutions to problems that arise. It should no longer be categorized as the decaying term of utility but as the business enabler they are.