Even just ten years ago, the fundamental purpose of the CIO was mainly concerned with IT infrastructure. Choosing which mainframe to implement, hiring the IT technicians with the skills to manage it and explaining the need for new tools to the board. How rapidly things change!
Today’s CIOs are providing colleagues with a whole new range of tools. They have become a far more important figure in the company’s operations and take an increasingly prominent position in the business. The purpose of a CIO has moved from simply managing technology, to managing how technology interacts with the rest of the business. Speaking to CIO magazine, Steve Durbin, MD of an information security firm remarked:
“…ten years ago, these guys were worrying about things like the mainframe computer… they didn’t have people like you and me – users who would suddenly decide they’re going to use their iPhone or tablet to access information.”
It is clear that in recent years, advances in technology have radically altered how business users interact with IT – what they expect from company software and how the CIO needs to react. As a result, there is a growing consensus that the CIO needs to move away from a position where they are ‘the expert’ deciding on what technology the business will have. Instead, the emphasis is increasingly on informed partnership; CIOs remain respected as experts, yet end users are increasingly adept with the tools they use and expect to be allowed to independently contribute to strategy.
This all sounds very appealing, yet how do you actually implement this new vision for IT? Of course, we’d all love to empower our end users to have a more engaged relationship with the tools they use. But, doesn’t it create the risk of shadow IT, and encourage the possibility of data ‘walking out the door’? Well, not necessarily. If implemented correctly, this new vision for IT can be encouraged in a well-managed and responsible manner. Let’s see how.
Becoming a partner to the business
In order to transform IT from a department which periodically enforces new software, imposes an intranet upgrade or dictates which devices employees can use, CIOs need to develop an alternative vision of what IT can actually be. At Consortium, we believe this should be about treating IT as a unified and central hub. A place where employees go to access all their software needs, all their apps and a place they can connect to from wherever they are on whatever device they wish. And, we believe a cloud-based environment can offer just this:
• Provide a central hub for all apps
This is perhaps the most important step in implementing a new vision for IT. We recommend Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based communications and collaboration environment.
Office 365 gives your users a launch pad where they can start their day. Once they sign in, they simply click on the ‘app launcher’ which provides instant access to all the tools they use – be that their latest project plan, an existing Word document or a big data analytics tool. Importantly, this app launcher can be easily customised to include apps they want and need. Say a specific employee wants to use a specific app for a specific task – say an invoicing tool or a form builder – they can easily integrate these from the Windows App Store. And, since they have been audited by Microsoft, you can be sure they’ll be safe and secure.
• Be cloud-centred
While being exclusively cloud-centred might not work for every organisation (hybrid is a strong alternative, for example) opting for a cloud-first approach facilitates the creation of the new vision for IT. By storing company information in a centralised cloud location, you facilitate the kind of flexible working that modern workers expect. They no longer have to come to the physical office to use a specific machine which has a specific programme installed upon it. Instead, they have much more of a ‘pick and choose’ relationship with company IT – they can access documents and libraries over the cloud, from wherever they are based.
• Any device, anywhere, anytime
In the past, IT played a major role in deciding which devices employees were actually allowed to use to access company data. They imposed specific models of mobile phones and banned others. However, to create a new vision for IT, your company needs a far more flexible approach to devices. It should be easy for users to login to your platforms whether they’re using an iPad, an Android smartphone or their old HP laptop at home.
The new deal for enterprise IT
The vision for what IT should be in relation to the rest of the business is undergoing major changes. And, these changes are likely to continue evolving. At Consortium, we are strong advocates of a more unified, collaborative, partnership-led relationship between IT and the rest of the business.
To find out more about how our services can help you implement your vision for IT change and alter how IT works within the business, contact us today.