BUSINESSES ARE FOCUSING ON TWO KEY PRIORITIES: CUTTING COSTS AND
GROWING REVENUE. BY SCOTT ARCHIBALD
BASELINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010
IT’S BEEN SAID THAT THE ONLY CERTAINTY IN LIFE IS change, and that statement has never been truer than it is today. The global recession has changed the way companies
think about business. In fact, this recession had a 400 percent greater impact on our economy in terms of the gross
domestic product than the Great Depression of the 1930s did.
Businesses globally are focusing on two priorities at the
moment: Cutting costs and growing revenue.
Executives are looking to mitigate risk by converting as
many fixed costs as possible to variable costs. Fixed costs
can include facilities, employees and IT infrastructure. We
can see this trend on the hiring front, with unemployment
numbers remaining at around 9. 7 percent. Companies are not
hiring employees en masse, and many are turning to consultants and contractors to fill their needs.
From a growth perspective, many businesses are simply
trying to get back to pre-2008 revenue levels. Emerging markets represent a huge growth opportunity for many companies, and continue to be an untapped resource for others.
So what does this business reality have to do with IT? In
truth, everything. It’s crucial for IT departments to understand the larger business challenges that their leaders are
facing and to emerge as a strategic partner rather than a cost
center or support function.
Smart IT executives will spend time with business leaders
and decision-makers to develop projects and initiatives that
help the company achieve the aforementioned priorities.
This will accomplish three important objectives:
• Develop relationships: Engage in face time with the
business people who hold the purse strings to foster
dialogues about projects and initiatives. And encourage
your management staff to form relationships with their
counterparts in the business.
• Learn the business: For IT personnel to take on a
truly strategic role within an organization, they need
to understand business goals and objectives, compre-
hend the challenges the company is facing, and identify
the role IT can play in resolving business problems.
LEARN TO COMMUNICATE
As simple as that may sound, most individuals—whether in
IT or not—don’t understand the value of communication in
business. In many instances, those who succeed do so because
they know how to speak to their audience in a language the
audience understands. In other words, a conversation with a
business executive in very technical terms and IT jargon will
likely cause that person to tune out.
A logical extension of learning the business is to communicate in business terms. By learning the enterprise’s objectives and challenges, it makes it easier for IT executives to
communicate possibilities and opportunities in terms the
business can understand. In other words, “Speak the local
language.” Understanding the big business picture will lead
to more strategic thinking.
However, talk is cheap, so it’s imperative to show results.