The days of segregating IT operations from the rest of the business are coming to an end, but this transformation represents a major cultural and operational change that can be difficult. Let's face it, there is something nice about setting IT as separate from the business. Help desk employees can freely trade stories about how foolish some end users seem and fully appreciate their technical superiority when they don't have to be part of the rest of the corporate machine. This playful elitism aside, it is also helpful to keep It apart because the expertise and role is so specialized in the technology sector that typical business concerns just get in the way, right?
Well, maybe not. A recent blog post from Forrester Research said that many of the most mature and successful IT departments have moved past this divide. Visit one such organization and you won't even here talk about IT and business being separate. Even the job roles will be worded in a way that brings everybody together.
Could this be the way IT evolves in the future? The news source says it might be. IT departments are increasingly tasked with moving beyond functioning as technology management organizations and instead asked to deliver value to customers and improve functionality for end users within an organization. All of this disruption and change sounds like the kinds of problems that a good IT service desk can help businesses solve.
Understanding the cultural change facing IT departments
According to the blog post, the clear separation between IT and business units is incredibly clear in the language used to talk about technology operations in the enterprise. It is common to talk about IT as if it is an entirely separate organization within a business. This relationship is often portrayed as one in which IT is almost an external service provider that business must interact with. The corporate units tell IT what they want and the technology teams do what they can to support and manage infrastructure, applications and other IT assets accordingly. There may be some merit to this segregation, but technology needs have changed and the time has come to break down the barriers between IT and business.
The report explained that thinking of IT as a separate element of an organization often leads to an attitude that IT must focus on developing solutions for the business. While this role is somewhat valid regardless of the situation, technology teams in enterprise settings instead need to emphasize that their purpose is to use technology and data to improve products and streamline operations. There may be some elements of creating solutions within this, but the slight shift to focus on improvement means that IT needs to align itself with business teams, understand their needs and function as a part of that group, not a separate entity.
Using the service desk to support structural change
Making the IT department a part of the business hinges on being able to get technology professionals away from managing hardware and focused more on strategic opportunities. This is already starting to happen alongside the rise of cloud computing and other mainstream technology outsourcing models. However, there is still so much to do from a service management perspective that many IT teams do not have the time to take on the structural and cultural changes needed to become a natural part of enterprise strategies.
An advanced IT service desk can pay dividends by improving incident and problem management. Streamlining these areas of operation and introducing process automation can go a long way toward closing the gap between IT and business units. Furthermore, line-of-business models can bring service desk functionality into departments like facilities, accounting and human resources, further aligning functionality throughout an organization.