Managing Technology Like A Business

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Think about this. Technology enables practically every business capability, which presents yet another management challenge. How does a leader harness technology to support or enable business objectives? How does the lack of emphasis on management of technology impair your business objectives?

I use the term “technology” as opposed to “IT” as operational technology (“OT”) has been gaining in adoption, particularly with the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT). For example, Utility companies have IoT devices mounted on meters (typically owned by the Operations team) that provide usage information every 15 minutes. The IT team (typically managed by the CIO) wants to use this data for maintenance, billing, and analytics – hence the quest for convergence. Take note: the IoT revolution is coming. Refrigerators, thermostats, TV’s and other devices can now communicate with us over a network. Because most of us primarily deal with traditional IT, let’s stick to that focus for today.

Many CIOs view IT as a business. They have customers, service delivery capabilities, a workforce, assets, and a cost/value proposition. Some companies also have a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) who handles the IT services, infrastructure and architecture. In that case, the CIO is responsible for servicing business requests and managing applications.

As a business leader, you need to ask yourself these key questions and consider these primary factors for each:

How do you view IT as a business, regardless of your size?

  • Responsiveness to business needs – how quickly is IT able to react to changing (and challenging) business environment?
  • Innovation – how do they serve to enable innovation that increases revenue, decreases cost or provides a new strategic capability?
  • Cost/value of services provided – how do they manage the value of its services?
  • Managing risk – how well do they assess and manage business and technology risk?

How is IT organized? You must anticipate providing these capabilities:

  • Leadership and governance – IT operational/financial management, business relationship management and frequently a Project Management Office (PMO)
  • Applications – software development, business application lifecycle and related data
  • Infrastructure – servers, storage, desktops, communications (e.g. data centers) and IT services like those described by the Infrastructure Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)
  • Security – enterprise, device and end-user security

I’ll dive deeper into the value proposition, services and organization in the next few weeks because it’s critical to invest in the right way.

As always, let me know if you have any questions or comments.