“IT guy.” We all say it. And – consciously or not – our inflection changes just a tic.
It hasn’t got the disdain of “Hello, Newman.” But there’s a resignation, even an annoyance to our tone.
The assumption that if we have to seek out, or are being sought out by, the “IT guy” our productivity is going to be disrupted for an indeterminate amount of time. Our valiant personal effort to contribute to the company’s bottom line or mission?
Thwarted. By the IT guy.
Turns out that attitude might go all the way to the top. According to a 2011 issue of CIO Magazine, the CIO is the least appreciated of the CXO roles.
There’s a common perception that the IT organization is a necessary evil – part of the cost of doing business. While it’s certainly true that IT represents a large operational expense, that’s hardly the whole story.
And there’s another problem. IT is frequently involved in revenue-generating activities – but those activities are almost always owned by other divisions, like sales or marketing. That makes IT the silent partner who gets no credit for a better bottom line.
So what does the chief IT guy have to do to get some respect – for himself and his team? By taking steps to change the way users view IT’s work – and taking credit where credit’s due – CIOs can demonstrate that a solid, well-run IT group is a significant value add in any company.
In a recent white paper from Kaseya, Landmark Ventures, a venture consulting firm, outlines four tactics for making the CIO and his team relevant to a company’s strategic goals:
Make the proactive visible – 60 percent of IT staff time is spent on tasks that no one sees – think patch management and network optimization, for example. Make sure people understand your contributions by implementing operational metrics, and use a reporting mechanism that increases visibility into your successes. Show the company how those wins translate into lower costs and increased productivity.
Make the reactive invisible – A cost-efficient IT systems management strategy relies on automation. When you can eliminate manual administrative tasks and implement mechanisms to fix something when it breaks, you free up your team to focus on strategic projects.
Give users a stake in making IT work – Help your staff make users’ lives easier. Create initiatives that streamline processes and collaborate with other business units to overcome their challenges. And leverage an employee self-service portal that allows end users to do routine maintenance on their own systems.
Create your own opportunities – When you create efficiencies that save money, reallocate it to projects you can wholly own. Invest in a reserve that allows you to take on strategic projects that wouldn’t be funded otherwise. This empowers IT to take a real leadership role in the growth of a lean, streamlined enterprise.
Thanks to some reliable network access and a laptop running smoothly, I’ve got some time on my hands. I think I’ll go buy my IT guy some flowers…