What can IT do to bridge the chasm with the business?

The steps that can bring inhouse IT back in from the cold...

...the customer becomes less enamoured with what is rapidly perceived as a constraint on the business, rather than a facilitator.

The new role of IT department should be as a trusted translator. IT has to be able to identify what functional services it already has at its disposal in its asset base at the datacentre.

It has to be able to understand what the business requires now and in the medium term, carry out a gap analysis between what is already available and what will be required, and advise on the various pros and cons of implementing the required functionality inhouse, in a co-location data centre facility or in sourcing it on-demand from the cloud.

This philosophy is a major change for IT departments. The need for strong technical skills in how to set up IT equipment, how to install and maintain operating systems and application server platforms ceases to be one that has defined value to the business. All these things can be managed more effectively by external organisations with specialist expertise.

The real skills come in being able to identify how each option lowers any risk and cost to the organisation while increasing the business value of IT through enabling improved competitiveness. For example, the capability to sell more of the same products or services at the same or greater margin or to bring new products or services to market at a reasonable margin.

The technical skills required lie in understanding how the new IT environment needs to be pulled together - who owns the relationships between different facility owners and service providers, how the security of data is managed and how the user experience is optimised.

Internal IT departments need to change and become slimmer as the ultra-techie role moves from inside an organisation to the cloud providers. This shift is no bad thing - such skills are more cost-effective when shared between multiple customers, and skills can be kept up to date more easily when the core business of a supplier is the provision of IT services.

The new inhouse IT professional will need to be someone who is willing to work with the business. They need to sit in on business discussions and advise on what is possible at the technical level, but in business terms.

Only through bringing IT back into business decision-making process can the chasm between IT and the businesses be bridged.

Without this change, many organisations will find themselves in a technological cul-de-sac, with the ever-present threat of extinction through lack of capability to evolve effectively.

Quocirca is a user-facing analyst house known for its focus on the big picture. Made up of experts in technology and its business implications, the Quocirca team includes Clive Longbottom, Bob Tarzey, Rob Bamforth and Louella Fernandes. Their series of columns for silicon.com seeks to demystify the latest jargon and business thinking.