Upgrades for mindsets rather than machines, Computing.co.uk

Posted by Peter Cochrane on September 4, 2008

Peter Cochrane, Computing.co.uk, 4 September 2008

Cochrane says IT leaders must embrace new ways of delivering business value to protect their future

Visit any modern organisation and there will be signs of discontent within the IT department, as teams struggle in the face of users' increasing technology ?know-how.

At home, people use the internet to be creative and communicate through new platforms ­ whether using the latest smartphone or online applications such as social networks.

But at work, the PC is often seen as a corporate resource that should be centrally controlled and access to collaborative technology is restricted. Such constraints show how IT departments have often failed to understand how collaborative technologies can boost productivity.

The additional strain of reduced IT budgets means technology support often suffers. As a consequence, savvy users bypass the helpdesk and fix problems locally.

This trend is being accelerated by the younger age group entering the workplace, which has a healthy appetite for new modes of working.

A change in thinking is required for companies to keep pace, and IT departments will need to adopt a stance that concentrates on user requirements.

Leading-edge businesses have already taken an important stride and given users more freedom. Workers are allocated a budget to select and manage their own hardware, whether they are buying a notebook or a phone.

Thankfully, there are areas where IT can help change the perception that technology is just a cost centre.

Business modelling, decision support and knowledge management can help IT leaders to derive value from business information.

By diverting resources and skills towards structural tasks, the IT department can become a facilitator for good working practices. As belts tighten and competition increases, such forward-thinking measures will help safeguard its future.

Peter Cochrane is an engineer, scientist, entrpreneur, futurist and consultant. He was previously chief technology officer and head of research at BT