IT has long shaped major corporations and made them stronger in the marketplace. Yet if you listen to investors and accountants, they are often viewed as a department that is really one of the larger cost centers in any company.
The question then, is how can a company use IT in a way that allows it to add to the success of a business in a greater way than it costs overall? For most companies, the answer is to play some of your opportunity forward and make strategic choices that may provide competitive advantage regardless of the added expense.
Here are some ways that those choices can play out over time for firms that are interested in getting the best ROI in IT:
An IT chosen app brings internal harmony:
Ever since companies started to switch over to CRM’s and ERPs, IT departments that get it right have been creating environments that allow every employee to do their job better than they could when they didn’t have access or visibility to every process that makes the company go. So, although your budget may remain higher than it has in the past because you need to pay for maintenance, it is the case that the increased productivity that your employees enjoy is directly related to the choices that your IT department made.
For those that are not actually involved with a CRM or ERP, those applications are integrated business tools that allow every part of a company to participate using the same information. The idea is that the accountants at the back end will receive all of the information that they need from the same system that they are using. That capability alone allows the program to help the company save money.
Innovation leveraging existing licenses:
One large company had a master license agreement with a software utility tool maker. The tool that they were using was pretty flexible. So it wasn’t any surprise when the people that administered that software ended up creating new uses for the software that extended its capabilities within the company. One IT engineer used it to create a spyware search and removal tool for when specific viruses attacked the company before any anti-virus software had a fix. Another IT engineer created a training lab that automatically had each PC reboot and refresh after each session.
In both cases, the software that they used was originally intended for something else that it was already helping the company for. So the net effect was that the company was helped in a larger way by a software that was purchased for a specific purpose. Interestingly enough, that utility that was provided wasn’t recorded well in financials because the company didn’t track vendor efforts like that.
Customers benefiting from extended service:
Another company in the restaurant business has added an application that allows customers to control their order using a tablet that each table is provided with. The net result for customers is that they can use an easy touch screen to order their meals and get better service. The company is then able to turn around and pay its workers more because they have changed the process in a way that allows them to save money.
Of course it is also possible for IT people to add something like a webdev guide to your website and put it in front of your customers. Your clients are then able to make specific changes to the equipment that they buy without having to worry about figuring it out for themselves.
The IT department can be one of the more strategic areas in your firm. It is a cost center in most cases, but as long the value that is added is greater than the cost that you are paying, they are worth it to support.
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Author Bio: Kevin Gardner graduated with a BS in Computer Science and an MBA from UCLA. He works as a business consultant for InnovateBTS where he helps companies integrate technology to improve performance. He shares his knowledge and expertise not only with his clients but with his fellow bloggers and readers.
Kevin is a guest blogger. All opinions are his own.