In the business of IT, we’re seeing yet another example of form imitating function.
Managers and solutions providers who work within IT often talk about the “business of IT,” by which they are referring to the pursuit of effectively managing IT as it becomes the central source of revenue for a business. It’s all about making sure that businesses leverage IT in the best possible way to deliver differentiated products and services in an ever more competitive world.
Businesses are beginning to restructure themselves around IT strategies. They are looking to employ new IT solutions like connective devices, big data and analytics to provide new engagement and revenue opportunities and to compete with their business rivals, who will be doing exactly the same. For example it’s now normal for all of us to bank online instead of visiting the branch, we all purchase goods and services using the internet, and soon technology is radically changing healthcare.
As businesses transition to incorporate IT strategies, business practices the DNA of day-to-day business activity are rapidly evolving to incorporate the lessons of standard IT procedures. These are lessons about efficiency, becoming more agile and offering better service and products and ultimately delivering quality as a differentiation.
IT: Not the Same Old Story
How is this different to what we have already seen? Companies are moving past the urge to simply graft IT infrastructure onto the same tried-and-tested foundations. IT today is completely reshaping those foundations altogether looking to disruptive technologies to drive innovation.
The disruptive impact that IT has had on almost every business can be traced back to its ability to deliver on those principles efficiency, agility, better products. IT-led businesses must be agile in order to disrupt slow-moving market leaders and take advantage of the business opportunity differentiation offers. Technology-driven startups have to be efficient so they can battle with the balance sheets of the Fortune 500. (These balance sheets and huge investments often are in parallel to lethargy in reacting to the changing business landscape). IT-driven companies must be able to deliver ultimately better solutions to spark such dramatic market change in a relatively short period of time, and to drive businesses to incorporate IT into their offerings and infrastructures.
These practices may seem obvious, particularly in tech-driven sectors where technologies like the cloud (again: agile, efficient, cost-effective) are now a vital to companies’ license to compete. Think of young businesses like Box or Uber or quick-to-turn incumbents like Apple and its iCloud.
Real Change, Real Success
But many industries still lagged behind in their appreciation for IT’s approach. Now, that’s all changing!
Example - Marketing: Managers in the marketing industry are now using agile project management skills similar to IT’s DevOps which stresses communication and collaboration between the development and operation sides of the house to deliver marketing projects. They are building small, nimble and parallel teams to develop marketing assets. The operation is leaner and a marketer’s time to market is falling. And the team is better able to adjust to changing market circumstances.
Example - Healthcare: Many hospitals were quick to realize the benefits of always-on connectivity for medical equipment, like crash carts vital, life-saving equipment in the medical frontlines. Connected to service desks, they can instantly monitor, maintain and repair them, minimizing downtime and maximizing reliability in critical situations.
We’re also seeing a big improvement in the way that prescriptions are managed and delivered. Practitioners are beginning to automate the process from doctor to delivery. It’s moving from prescription pads to iPads, and from appointments to apps and automated delivery and validation of the prescription against insurance plans looking for a more cost-effective generic. It’s efficient, it’s cheaper for everyone and it’s a better service for the patient.
Example - HR: Finally, in the realm of HR, employee onboarding is being streamlined to not only increase efficiency, but also to increase effectiveness of the process. For instance, when a new employee joins a company, they are now automatically assigned the appropriate level of IT access based on their roles, with equipment for the role automatically ordered, training courses scheduled and even the appointment for physical access scheduled. No more first-week haggling with tech support over access or equipment! They are also allocated the right stationary, office space, and so on.
These seem like simple ideas, and they are. Reorganization and automation, empowered by IT, has incredible potential to make big changes to how businesses operate and to customer experience while increasing the quality of service delivered.
For many industries, we are in the early days of this sea change. In time, and with the right IT providers on hand to help make the transition, everyone from law firms to libraries, from restaurants to realtors can adopt and reap the benefits from an automated IT mindset.
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