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Information Technology (IT) is essential to any business. However, IT is typically more focused on operations, making sure that the lights are kept on and the wheels keep turning. IT is necessary and vital; however, I would argue that typically, IT is not strategic to the business. This may seem like an outrageous statement, but let me explain.

IT focuses on operational excellence, making sure the applications run optimally, data is protected and systems are secure. However, the frontline of the business is focused on driving revenue. It is revenue growth that is considered strategic and the reality is the further you get from revenue, the less you are considered "strategic" to the business.

In most cases, moving IT closer to the frontline driving revenue is a bit of a leap. There are steps that can be taken towards this end.

The most obvious activity or goal of IT is to reduce cost. This is the other side of the coin of revenue generation. And IT teams already do focus on reducing costs when they can. In thriving economies, IT often overspends because when money is "cheap," the cost of risk outweighs the cost of capital.

In bad economies (like what we have today), the cost of capital is synonymous with the cost of risk. In other words, if revenue is down and growth is uncertain, you need to tighten your belt to make sure the company stays alive. You may need 10 dollars in revenue to make one dollar in profit and this is where IT can be very strategic. If IT can save that one dollar, it relieves pressure on the company's revenue engine.

Certainly, there are times when the lines between IT and business move closer together. Perhaps two of the most important efforts where IT meets business are eDiscovery and compliance.

For example, most users take email for granted as a means to communicate. However, email is actually evidence in the legal discovery process. Corporate and organizational information, or the lack of it, can result in millions of dollars in damages. Additionally, it can impact a company's brand, which can result in losing customers, partners and employees. It is not only important to have the data, but you must also be able to access and retrieve it in a timely manner.


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