2019: The Year IT Makes a Comeback - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership
Commentary
2/18/2019
02:00 PM
David Politis, CEO and Founder, BetterCloud
David Politis, CEO and Founder, BetterCloud
Commentary
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2019: The Year IT Makes a Comeback

It's time for IT leaders to recognize that the IT group is crucial to their companies' future growth and success, and to let the business know that IT is there to help.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: IT is one of the most critical components to business growth today. Yet most companies treat them as a cost center instead of revenue drivers, despite the value they bring to the table.

This couldn’t be farther from reality. In most cases, IT execs aren’t just facilitating businessthey serve as the backbone of the business, creating new revenue streams and empowering employee productivity across the entire organization. So, dear IT exec, don’t be afraid to speak up; don’t be afraid to showcase the great work you’re doing. You have the power to transform the way business gets done. 

2019 is a tipping point for business. Technology is no longer a nice to have, but imperative to digital transformation. Here’s how you can help your business take things to the next level.

Show your business chops 

IDC forecasts that total worldwide spending on digital transformation technologies will exceed $1.3 trillion in 2018. This points to the fact that every business wants to become a technology company, and this couldn’t be a better time to step up and show the value of IT in making this shift. 

But this will require flexing new muscles. The key to success is to become as close to the business as possible. Learn and understand the broader goals, the KPIs, and the friction points. Build a relationship with key business stakeholders and understand what keeps them up at night in terms of technological innovation, and set the right expectations. This is extremely important in an era of rapid technological innovation where both sides — IT and business — are feeling tremendous pressure to keep up with the competition.

In fact, IDC predicts that by 2020, 80% of IT executive leadership will be compensated based on business KPIs and metrics that measure IT's effectiveness in driving business performance and growth, not IT operational measures. Your success metrics will shift, if they haven’t already.

Don’t stand on the sidelines anymore. Be creative and strategic by creating new revenue streams for your business, and promote your success. Don’t let anyone tell you that IT-business alignment is a fantasy as not all organizations are created equal.

Show more flexibility 

You have a reputation for saying “no” to change. And it makes sense. After all, a large part of your job is to ensure business processes are running smoothly so employees remain productive and the business profitable. But a change in tone could help you shift the perception that IT execs are largely naysayers and doomsday prophets.

Continue to listen to what employees want and incorporate new technologies you think will further the business. Pay close attention to shadow IT and use it to your advantage to gauge what employees need to get their jobs done. Most importantly, come with options. You may have employees who want to use certain applications you know do not meet security requirements. Instead of just saying “no,” offer up an alternative.

Make sure security is baked into everything 

Flexibility is great but not at the cost of security. More applications mean more dispersed data, that much we know. So while you can be open to new technologies, you’ll also need to take greater security measures to ensure data remains within company walls. Otherwise, you leave yourself open to potential leaks — intentional and unintentional — and that’s simply something businesses today cannot afford.

One of our customers once said, "Create secure paths of least resistance." This means providing employees with all the tools they need to do their jobs, but making sure security is built into these tools and processes to keep employees compliant and data secure. 

Per my earlier point, we’re all in a race toward digital transformation, with technology becoming a key differentiator. This means the stack will only continue to grow — and it’s your job to manage this growth responsibly. 

Demand more resources

Let’s face it, the job is not going to get any easier. There will be more applications and data than ever, which will create more work to keep day-to-day operations running smoothly. This will require more manpower and tools that can automate basic processes. The good news is IT budgets have been going up. According to Gartner, IT spending is projected to total $3.8 trillion in 2019, an increase of 3.2% from 2018.

Make your business case and prove you deserve more resources. Show the great work you’ve done and clearly illustrate that your achievements have contributed to the bottom line. In short, if you show value to the business, you’ll get the budget you need. 

2019 is your chance to make a difference. The more companies embrace technology, the bigger your role will be.

David Politis is chief executive officer of BetterCloud.

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