The evolution of the IT department

Steve Evans

Sunday 11 October 2015

It’s no longer just about keeping the network up. IT is now a department that can provide a focal point for the entire business, and that’s why interest in it is growing.

The IT department has an altogether undeserved reputation when it comes to its role in the business. There’s still the enduring mental image of a group of people locked away in a basement, peevishly telling people to try switching their PCs off and on again in order to fix a problem.

It has a reputation as a business blocker; forever stopping people from working how they want, when they want and where they want. That’s because IT used to be tasked exclusively with keeping the business running  keeping the network up, keeping the PCs and mobile devices working and keeping the printers stocked with toner and paper.

IT didn’t push the business. It wasn’t seen as a revenue-generating department in its own right. Instead, it simply helped the other departments in the pursuit of a profit-margin.

But all that has changed. The IT department has now evolved into a revenue-generating machine; an entity that actively drives the rest of the business. That’s why Gartner has predicted a 2.4% increase in worldwide IT spending for 2015 to $3.8 trillion.

Businesses have come to realise that a more engaged IT department can provide huge benefits. Mobile devices and apps, data, cloud computing and social media are real business drivers at the moment. Getting the IT department on board is the best way to ensure a business can exploit these trends, improving productivity, worker happiness, revenue, profits and customer satisfaction.

In addition to this, the economic uptick across many parts of Europe has helped the IT department evolve from providing ‘traditional IT’ to ‘business technology.’ Instead of looking at ways of cutting costs and keeping the lights on, the IT department can play a much more active role in winning business, becoming a true differentiator.

It’s why economists and investors are taking much greater interest in the IT department. A look at some of the headline-grabbing investments over the last year or so shows lots of money flowing into start-ups that aim to make IT departments faster, leaner, more intelligent, more agile and more efficient. Areas such as big data, storage, analytics, data management, data centre infrastructure and more have received heavy investment, and they are certainly areas businesses can use to improve their own performance.

This really is IT’s time to shine, to show that it can evolve from a traditional IT provider into a key, revenue-generating part of the business.