IT Evangelism: Transform Your IT Organization from a Cost Center to a Profit Center

March 28 2016 | by Yoav Mor

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It is well known that IT is valuable to companies. However, while they enable companies to function successfully and profit financially, they are generally not considered to be central players indirectly reaching business goals. But what’s caused IT technologies to be overlooked? It’s mostly been due to the high costs of data center capital investments and maintenance, which has diverted consensus into thinking of IT as a burden, albeit a necessary one.

By increasing transparency, defining clear goals, showing innovation, and actively taking part in business conversations and decisions from the get-go, IT teams can show their real value as profit centers rather than cost centers. As a result, the role of CIOs and IT managers has shifted. Rather than solely being responsible for overseeing operations, they are now also “IT evangelists”, responsible for ensuring that their entire organization realizes and understands the importance of their operations in terms of the business as a whole.

Transparency Is Key

In order to enhance efficiency, you must have complete transparency into your enterprise IT inventory and consumption, both in your on-premises and cloud environments, as well as be able to clearly see their costs and the purpose they are serving. This can be done by moving from monitoring rigid on-premises environments to consolidating all visibility systems into one in conjunction with using modern analytic tools. Your main goal here is to be able to periodically report your costs alongside how the IT department helps reach business objectives.

Enterprise IT needs to start thinking like and being perceived as a service broker in addition to being an implementer. By changing their position and creating the necessary level of transparency, IT teams in enterprises that span across multiple business units can govern and support the overall requirements of an enterprise. When dealing with cloud cost and security, governance should take the highest priority. This visibility also allows single business units to be independent and agile, holding their leaders and members accountable for their own cloud environment.

Budget and Innovation

Bring the focus back to your team by tracking progress against certain predefined success metrics. For example, how quickly does your service desk answer queries? And what is the average end user (internal or external) wait time? Are these metrics steady, or do they fluctuate widely? Optimizing operational costs should also be something that you strive for. This can be done by sticking to a strict budget and consistently reducing the average cost of a single resource or even a complete application stack while maintaining an agile environment that performs well and adjusts to demand.

Additionally, it is important to have an overview of how your annual budget is being distributed in terms of maintenance vs. new initiatives. Traditionally, IT budgets are known to be more focused on “keeping things afloat,” although modern organizations are now also expected to show a flare for innovation. Securing a sufficient maintenance budget will allow you to freely allocate funds specifically to the exploration and implementation of new solutions that could lead to your organization taking a leading position in its field. In this sense, public cloud offerings play a significant role in enabling this innovative atmosphere by freeing you from the confines of costly traditional data centers.

Ultimately, the idea is to directly show how the implementation of modern IT infrastructure and practices can lead to improved performance and even to new business, which can then be translated directly into additional revenues.

Lead the Conversation

As a cost center that incurs high costs, IT has evolved over the years to become a burden within organizations. With modern IT systems and the cloud, however, this perspective can realistically be changed. Without communicating this adjustment across your organization, however, you will lack the recognition you and your team deserve.

Make sure that conversations with business leaders take priority and always be prepared to demonstrate the value that technology can bring to their organizations. Being an advocate for technology implementation in order to enhance business processes is not a new concept for IT leaders, although this time there is a need to have stronger objectives and work more closely with your peers. By demonstrating first-hand how various technologies can be implemented, and educating your colleagues on the benefits, they can also enjoy similar advantages in their sectors.

Experiment and discover what policies and procedures work for your organization, and enforce them. For example, one idea is to appoint various IT team members to act as official intermediaries within other business units. By joining meetings and working directly with the team in their assigned areas, they will be able to solve issues and run new initiatives. This direct approach can be much more productive than other methods, such as creating an IT strategy council or steering committee.

Final Words

With increased communication, your whole organization will have a greater understanding of how technology is required or implicated with every move, and IT teams will be included in decisions earlier on. When new business ventures such as trying to tap into a new market or the creation of a new product are being discussed, the IT side will be considered from the moment of initiation. Not only will this impact the efficiency of the company as a whole, but your role as an IT leader will switch from a reactive order-taker to consultant collaborator.

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