Can the Mobility Age Transform IT from Villain to Hero?

Niamh Madigan

IT now needs to be capable of elevating its role with business stakeholders.


How well do you know your CIO or IT Director? How well does your CIO know you? How often do you see any member of your IT department? And is your organisation fully up-to-speed when it comes to understanding the current strategies and goals of your IT department?

Ever heard the saying ã?? better the devil you know, than the one you donã??t,ã?쳌 unfortunately I believe it is because many businesses arenã??t fully aware of the goals of an IT department that leaves them to be branded as the sticklers of an organisation who are sitting in the way of progression and innovation, thus looking like the bad guys.

But try asking your CIO what keeps him/ her awake at night at your Christmas drinks this year and you might be surprised to find out that they face the same issues as you do. Itã??s probably going to be they have a limited budget and wonder how best to spread their bets when it comes to spending across the enterprise ã?? whether that is on Intellectual property, innovation or new technology which has to be implemented to keep the company moving forward.

Added to this is the headache of being seen to be ã??on every departmentsã?? sideã?? and thus be in a position to provide what it is that department is looking for and addressing the needs of those shouting loudest. One of big areas of change across much business is on mobility technology and strategy. Mobility in technology is the biggest technological shift since the internet and it is placing big demands on IT for effective usability, architecture and development approaches.

Employees want their work technology to respond like their personal technology doesã?¦and why not?

Many CIOs would compare this fast evolving age of technology to those early days when the PC arrived ã?? then Amstrad were in there, followed by Compaq, Dell, and HP. It was difficult to pick out a strategy for a corporate where money wasnã??t thrown away, and there is a sense of that happening again.

However, IT departments have been rolling out mobile technology since the HP Jornada was around; a very old personal information manager. Mainly in the last 18 months organisations been faced with implementing the latest mobility and smartphones. For many CIOs there has been a very strict dividing line when it comes to implementing consumer electronics and corporate tools and many IT departments face the struggle at being effective in not overdoing it.

It appears ã??the guys upstairsã?? donã??t often understand the big support systems that run the business, like SAP or Oracle, but they know the stuff they touch, like mobile devices and they want to replicate that telepresence in the corporate environment, those are the things that are game-changing in terms of their daily life. But perhaps the question that needs to be addressed is how are enterprises using IT to drive customer-focused solutions and business value?

It would be wrong to say the IT is not excited about mobility, but because the market is evolving so quickly and budget is not always allocated for such innovation ã??(on average about 20% of an organisationã??s budget is allocated towards innovation) - many are tasked with being the ultimate decision makers when it comes to making the distinction between consumer products and corporate technology.

While many companies would claim to be device agnostic, there are many with rules in place on what can be connected to and why. Most corporates are not in the position of being able to afford to provide external support as well as all the current PC stuff. It can double, if not treble support costs, so many are unfortunately trying to find a balance between enabling their user community and not spending so much more on IT that it becomes not a smart place to be.

The challenge comes down to bridging the gap between IT and other lines of business in order for a mobile roadmap to be successfully built within any organisation. It quite often comes down to emotion verses rationale and it is easy to point the finger ITã??s way when decisions are made, but reasons arenã??t often explained.

A few companies I have spoken to on this subject will voice the same concerns time and time again. Quite often it comes down to dragging a member of a particular department into the office and literally explaining everything new that is coming out and somewhat lifting the veil on IT or exposing themselves somewhat to demonstrate that they are on the side of said department, something IT has never had to do before.

IT need to be recognised as strategic leaders of the organisation and so need to be in constant communication with the heads of all departments to find out what it is their customers want.

But perhaps the mobile age will push IT to the fore of the organisation and change the perception from being looked up on as the fuddy-duddy to become a very sexy part of any corporate. Today mobile wins are vital for any resume of any IT professional on the job-market. Looking back five years ago a lot of work in the area of mobility would be looked upon as taxing and it was only used for tactical and functional reasons. However over the last two years there has been a shift and that tactical and functional role has evolved to one thatã??s far more strategic across the enterprise.

We only have to look at how the relationships between CMO and CIO have evolved ã?? the CIO also now needs to wear a digital managerã??s hat .

To help itself more , IT needs to stop being so inward focused and work as a team with the rest of the company ã?? a culture that has not always existed, but is critical in order for organisations to successfully build a co-ordinated approach to mobility to deliver wider business objectives.

Categories: IT, Mobilty Strategy, Stakeholder buy-in, CIO, IT Director