There are some kind of professionals you simply don’t want to see too often; doctors, car mechanics. You know they work day in and day out but, frankly, when you do see them it usually means a) something’s gone wrong and b) it’s going to cost you money .
For many of us we see IT support in exactly the same way. Chances are we only get in touch with them when something goes wrong. You can’t access your email, you’ve hit a brick wall in terms of work and can’t continue until they help you. When you see them you feel stressed, frustrated and tired.
It’s a strange way of seeing a department and a team within our own companies that should really be designed to help us work faster, more efficiently and to utilize the latest software and technology that will make our lives easier. Cloud Computing is throwing this discussion into focus; how do we see IT teams and how can we re-think the way we want to integrate them into business practice.
At the moment, IT teams are seen more as a support service than a strategic one. That focus on support means the ability to see IT as something that can shape and contribute fundamentally to how your company runs and to the way it works with clients. We get frustrated with IT because we see them as a team whose service is switched on and off like a tap that we pick up and use when we need them and not so much a service to incorporate into our wider business. Is it any wonder then that when we have to wait for them to come and fix our email we get angry; what else can they possibly have to do if all we’re asking of them is to fix email.
It’s important that this shift happens. Cloud Computing has reflected the ability to put users at the centre of an IT strategy. Who better to help feed into this than the IT professionals who have been sitting in between users and technology for much of their professional careers? So how do we encourage this shift? Here are three starting points.
- IT needs to be shifted from just problem-solving so that they become a team that can help find solutions, helping to develop a way of working that helps the company grow and expand. Exploring and researching new solutions like Exchange hosting and setting up discussion groups for all members of the team to feed into this can help start this process.
- More of a focus on the customer, which means both the client as well as the staff within the company. What are the customer’s needs and interests? IT shouldn’t be behind a closed door. If a client wants a specific technology or has their heart set on a particular way of working then IT should be part of the process in finding a solution, not becoming a blockage.
- Troubleshooting; if IT is one of the principal causes of downtime in a company then the IT team should be working on finding solutions and identifying key issues. If there’s a plan in place to bypass problems then downtime is reduced and the company can be more productive. Greater productivity can free up time for more innovation and creativity. Win, win all round.