Business leadership has finally understood the value IT brings to the table—and all it took was a global crisis to shift perceptions. The upending shift to remote work—and the subsequent shift to hybrid workplaces—were made possible by the speed, expertise, and perseverance of today’s IT professionals. No longer is the IT function merely viewed as a service bureau or cost centre; today, they stand between business continuity and a total breakdown of communication and collaboration.
This dramatic truth isn’t lost on business leadership. According to our recent SolarWinds® IT Trends Report, over 33% of IT professionals are seeing greater goal alignment between their function and senior leadership, and 59% are confident investments towards their function will grow in the short term.
The burning question now is “how can IT capitalize on its newfound worth?” What future moves should they make to prove their value, solidify their worth, and command greater respect from the stakeholders, decision-makers, and employees within their organization?
Clarify the Importance of IT Dollars
For all their contributions throughout the pandemic, IT leaders may still find themselves having those tough budgeting conversations with business leaders. As always, the name of the game is securing profitability, which is accomplished by growing revenue streams or slashing run costs. In times of uncertainty like the present, expect businesses to choose the latter—even for critical functions like IT!
Counterintuitive, I know. But most business leaders are focused on fixing existing fires, and in their view, IT already has whatever it needs to keep the lights on. IT leaders, however, can convince their peers by clearly communicating the risks of reduced IT spend in terms business leaders understand. For instance, IT leaders can provide rough predictions on the cost impacts of an application going offline for an hour or the cumulative costs of a data breach due to lacklustre cyberdefense. In an era where such events are increasingly frequent, it wouldn’t take much to convince business leaders IT investment and risk management go hand in hand.
The bottom line: instead of talking about the long-term innovations and possibilities an IT investment would bring, factually communicate the outcomes or disruption it could mitigate in the near future.
It’s Time to Rethink the IT Playbook
Speaking of disruption, IT’s remit of managing on-site support is being upended yet again with the rapid emergence of the hybrid work model. Granted, hybrid work isn’t exactly new—but just like the pandemic-induced remote work shift, it’s being done at a much larger scale and pace than most IT teams are prepared for. Business leaders will increasingly look to IT to provide on-site support for those returning to the office while maintaining remote services for those who aren’t.
This is to say nothing of the greater volumes of endpoint devices, software, and connectivity solutions like VPN needed to make hybrid work possible. The onus is on IT to adapt to the circumstances by rethinking existing processes and adopting new ones, such as agile IT service management (ITSM) practices. Make the business case with leadership by communicating the importance of ITSM when it comes to squeezing maximum value out of existing tech investments and its role in assessing tech needs, tracking impact, and delivering agile IT services. Speak in terms of the visibility, control, and stability agile processes or solutions bring, and you’ll get buy-in from top leadership in no time.
The bottom line: a decentralised, hybrid workforce has made the old ways of doing IT ineffective. Adapt processes and adopt agile ITSM solutions—if you haven’t already—to impart more flexibility and bring back control to the IT function.
Time to Go Lean and Mean
My final point has less to do with communicating with business leaders and more to do with the need to adopt their mentality. IT pros must learn to “do more with less” by finding ways to optimize the applications and infrastructure already in place or by trimming back time-consuming procedures requiring way more resources than necessary. For instance, IT pros can implement ITSM-based self-servicing desks so support resources can be reallocated to firefighting. Or they can move on-prem application workloads to the cloud, which can then be monitored and managed with fewer IT personnel using the right management software.
The bottom line: most IT teams will have no choice but to adopt this prudent mentality, given the current tech shortage and the growing threat of cyberattacks—a risk exponentially increasing as threat surfaces expand with infrastructure. Only when they work closely with business leadership can IT pros better identify areas of business capable of benefitting from more investment into their function and exert greater control and visibility over their domain with the right solutions.
Are you ready to exert your bolstered influence as an IT leader and do your part to steer your organization toward recovery? IT professionals, are you prepared to work with leadership to meet the realities of hybrid work and the associated changes or adjustments? These will be critical questions to ask—and work on—in the coming months.