Increase the Value Proposition of IT Within Organizations

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Today an increasing number of CIOs are reporting directly to the CEO and being asked to contribute to long-term strategic thinking and planning. Long gone are the days when IT was responsible for managing only IT costs and security. Now responsibilities include aligning IT/business goals, delivering on competitive differentiation and developing new go-to-market strategies/technologies.

So how does IT management use its unique position to spur business innovation?

1. Drive technology investments that help better align IT and business goals.

According to a recent online poll of 500 IT executives, the following represents areas where IT expects to have the most impact over the next year:

  1. Customer relationships (acquiring, retaining)
  2. New-market offerings
  3. End-user workforce productivity
  4. Company operating costs

The number one business goal, regardless of industry or business unit, continues to be sales. In the past, understanding the customer was a burden typically placed on the sales and marketing teams. But that statement is no longer true.

So what conclusion can we draw?

Enterprise collaboration is vital. In a world where cross-functional team discussion about business processes and customer needs are key, companies with a collaboration platform and strategy in place will have a definite competitive advantage. The 21-century CIO is expected to not only support employees but also sales, customer service and other inter-departmental teams that focus on the customer.

2. Lead change efforts to create a corporate culture of collaboration.

In corporations where information silos no longer exist, collaboration is a new way of life. Here's an example: when a leading software company released a beta of its collaboration platform to employees, one immediate, recognizable difference was improved workflow. Instead of sending one-to-one emails en masse, messages and files were being shared and stored in the new online repository, accessible by all team members. Discussions and decisions were happening much faster, and workplace productivity improved by 30 percent within the first 60 days.

By implementing collaboration software across the enterprise, IT can help accelerate team efficiency and end-user productivity by using technology to retain, recall and share valuable corporate intelligence hidden within employees.

As Craig Symons of Forrester Research points out, "Today, more than 85 percent of a typical S&P 500 company's market value is the result of intangible assets. For many companies, the bulk of these intangible assets is its people, its human capital. It is no longer what you own that counts but what you know..."

Try capturing what's in the mind of your employees and how it all connects -- you may find the process a little exhausting. Disappearing corporate intelligence is a reality, but it doesn't have to be. Among other benefits, enterprise collaboration software helps you:

  1. Map how knowledge naturally flows throughout your organization
  2. Evolve traditional knowledge management efforts
  3. Realize cost savings by reducing duplication of efforts
  4. Increase overall connectedness and communication
  5. Increase company-wide innovation by empowering different business units to collaborate with one another
  6. Measure the performance and value of user-generated content

In order to be successful in today's business environment, companies must weave communities of practice into all facets of the business, from product development to prospecting to sales follow-up. And IT management can help lead this charge.

3. Measure the impact of your collaboration investment.

With CIOs gaining visibility within the enterprise and meeting regularly with their C-level peers, having the capability to quickly analyze, trend and provide analysis on how people are contributing within your employee community is more than just necessary -- it's mission-critical.

Adopt business intelligence tools that will help you analyze the metrics of your online community. Employ committed resources within your organization whose job is to consistently analyze the ebb and flow, decide what's working/what's not, and determine what to focus on. In order to translate your investment into a tangible business value, you'll need to report on your community network data. The information provided will help you determine exactly how much value your investment is adding to the organization.

Your enterprise collaboration software should be able to (1) connect your employees and (2) mine your community data and activity. Only then will you know how efficiently information is flowing throughout the company.

4. Set structure in place today to prepare for the future of the IT organization.

This one's simple: build networking into the growth of your organization. As daunting as it may be, research shows that 40 percent of today's corporate management will retire in 10 years. What are you doing today to prepare for the Millennial Manager? Are you capturing, indexing and making searchable the extensive knowledge hiding in the minds of your current employees?

With a proven enterprise collaboration platform, you won't have to lose sleep over how to best harness your corporate intelligence. You'll be able to provide a 360-degree view of how your employees collaborate and manage knowledge, while also extending that group effort beyond the firewall to your customers, prospects and partners.

In a world where the boundary lines are currently being erased and re-drawn, now is the time to prepare for the future of business!