Unlocking the Hidden Value of IT

April 28, 2021
Dave Brady

The real value of IT is often overlooked and seldom leveraged. Let me explain.

We have all heard the mantra - People, Process, and Technology. All industries, all companies require these pillars to deliver products and services to market successfully. Taken together, they are the bedrock of any business.

The Backdrop

But if you look closely at any business, you will see the pillars only converge around one, and that’s technology. All areas have people and processes that work together from time to time. But all the time, that only happens at the crossroads with technology. Process drives this, and regardless of the process being integrated, standalone, simple, or complex, all processes require some level of technology to be effective.  

The Opportunity

To fully leverage technology at this crossroad of people and process, consider the multitude of workflow, transaction, and information interactions throughout the day. Untapped potential can be found here when utilizing systemic, critical thinking and analysis. Taking an enterprise view of what transpires at the crossroads, new opportunities become apparent, leading to innovation, operations excellence, and new insights into the business that can now be exploited. Any company can take advantage of this value proposition; it is not unique to anyone. Surprisingly, many businesses do not. But those that do operate better, resulting in market share gains, higher revenues, improved margins, better quality & service, and higher employee engagement. And when companies outperform the competition, good things happen.   

And this is where opportunity avails itself and the genuine value if IT lies, creating ongoing enterprise-scale improvements in capabilities, process, workflow, data, and analytics to operate better. IT, and only IT, is unique seeing everything that occurs at the crossroads. Each business function employs a process to create value, processes that rely on information to handle unique transactions, workflows, and reporting needs. Technology lies at the heart of this.    

As the managers of technology and custodians of information, IT is uniquely positioned to have and or create deep insights into how ALL processes work today and can be improved tomorrow to better the entire business. The convergence of process and flow of information at the crossroads is immense. Enterprise management and utilization of the data flow can also lead to better reporting, analytics, and new insights often missed before.

The Challenge

For many companies, this value proposition if IT is misunderstood nor leveraged. Regretfully, these companies will never know about opportunities missed. IT is frequently regarded as overhead, left to manage some applications, IT infrastructure & operations, and security while constrained with limited resources and shrinking budgets. That overhead role has and will always be essential and complex; keeping the lights on, managing cyber-threats, handling employee needs, and incorporating the latest advances in technology.

For many companies, that bodes well for managing yesterday’s technology investments and keeping costs in check.  But to capitalize on opportunities at the crossroads, that approach leaves too little resource, funding, and skills to create future business value.  

IT as overhead versus business value creator. It really is a choice.      

Capitalize on the Hidden Value

Overcoming the challenge for many business leaders lies in thinking differently about IT as an asset versus a liability. Chartering IT to lead operational excellence versus technology can lead to new business capabilities, create process efficiencies, improve customer and employee satisfaction, and drive continuous improvement. Proper governance with seasoned business acumen will create material returns that justify such an investment in time and expense.    

Value creation in modern business requires some level of technology to be involved, so it stands to reason to leverage that at the organization level. Capitalizing on this requires different skills and leadership within IT; business-oriented, program and change management, and systemic, critical thinking skills. Positioning IT to be more involved in ongoing operational and strategic planning within the business is vital.

Technology is the driver behind today’s digital transformation and will always be at the crossroads of the entire business. Technology is rapidly changing all industries and markets, and the pace is accelerating. Positioning IT to partner closely with all business areas to discover and exploit opportunities at the crossroads to drive new and lasting value just makes good business sense.

After all, technology alone seldom solves business challenges and rarely drives lasting value; rather, transforming process and changing how people work does.

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