Bridging the great divide: what divide?

Bridging the great divide: what divide?

In recent years, inumerable event speeches, column inches and working groups have been devoted to the so-called IT/business divide. More specifically, angst within the sector has focused on a silo-ed IT department that is out of touch with what the CEO and the rest of the business wants and needs. In such a scenario, the technology-focused personnel push the latest and greatest gadgets and systems with scant regard for overall strategy.

A recent interview with the IT manager of a small, local, non-profit organisation helped me form a vision of a brave new technology world. Well, at least, a very different looking New Zealand IT industry with positive spinoffs for the channel.

In this industry, skilled workers wouldn’t be as hard to come by, and there would be a new generation passionate about technology who are stronger prospects to take over from today’s IT veterans and senior managers.

In part, this reality is made more achievable because it can capitalise on a society where the upcoming generation of workers find technology tools an increasingly natural part of life.

But in some corporations, and in smaller firms, technology isn’t naturally integrated throughout the business. How could this be improved upon?

The aforementioned manager’s suggestion was to do away with tech classes and to make IT a natural part of every class from English to maths. The increasing array of small devices – such as smartphones, e-readers and mini notebooks – could be incorporated into classroom learning in every instance, as much as they are used during teens’ leisure time.

This manager also pointed out the more industry members talk about how to bridge the gap between IT and the business, the more they are establishing the perception that there is a gap.

So back to the implications of this new reality for local partners.

It is not just within organisations that the perception of an IT/business gap exists. Partners have just as strong an opportunity to break down the perception as CIOs and IT managers, because they of the trusted advisor role they play to SMBs and enterprises alike.

The economic downturn made it more important than ever to gain an in-depth understanding of a customer, or potential customer’s, needs before recommending the implementation of particular systems and tools, or the inception of an IT project.

Savvy partners realise this must be a key part of their services and consulting offering. In addition, any system installation is only as good as the training and support offered to a client’s users so that the technology can be used effectively, provide return on investment and promote productivity.

Such partners also realise that there is a need to use their own company as a showpiece for customers, who want to break down any areas where overarching company strategy isn’t being furthered by technology investment.

Technology channel companies by their very nature are in a stronger position to do this than those in other sectors customers operate in.

All this can potentially be made easier with a workforce that sees the so-called IT/business gap as a foreign concept, because the use of technology across their work and personal lives has been hardwired and cultivated in schools from early on. Well, they may at least see it as a small and ever shrinking fissure rather than a gaping chasm.

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