IT: Asset or Liability

It seems like the IT department only gets attention when something breaks. Somehow the average user forgets that IT isn’t what caused something to stop working, they are the reason that it ever worked in the first place. While it is not surprising to most that IT can be a very thankless field to work in, this overall perception of technology departments seems to be indicative of a larger issue. Far too many companies are viewing their IT departments as a cost center rather than a driving force behind technology and productivity.

While there was certainly a time when new technologies were a convenience rather than a necessity, the average user depends on their devices and applications in order to get their job done. Across most industries many business owners could easily point to one or several devices/applications that are mandatory for their company to make money. This could be a computer, credit card terminal, fax machine, tablet or a cloud-based application that they lean on to conduct business. If the technology has become a business necessity doesn’t it follow logically that the professionals supporting it should also be treated with the same level of importance.

There seems to be a perception that modern technology is “plug and play and there isn’t much to do for a successful deployment of new solutions; much less ongoing support. It is far too easy to think of business technology the same as residential solutions. The concept that setting up a secure fully-meshed Wi-Fi network for a business is the same as plugging in the wireless router at your home and adding a range extender is very common. People tend to conceptualize things based on their own personal experience and so they look at the technology they use at work and assume it is similar in deployment and support to something else in their life. If they can deploy and support technology at their home, how hard can it be at work? If it’s that easy then why pay the IT people so much, and why does it ever break?

It is far past time that users and business leaders realized how much they are using technology on a daily basis, and that making all of these technologies work together securely is far from an easy task. The average IT staff is supporting an ever-increasing number of devices, applications and different technologies. Since most users don’t fully understand how it all works together, the IT department has to make the process simple which should be appreciated, but instead gives users the idea that it is actually simple. Perhaps if users had to set up QoS on for their own VoIP phones they would understand why there are occasionally call quality issues.

The time has come for company leadership to realize that technology has quickly become the vehicle that drives your business’s productivity and profits; and without the right team of mechanics that vehicle is going nowhere. Your IT team is the reason all other departments are able to do their job. Don’t believe me? Let your sales team try to set up their own network and applications and see how much time they spend selling each week versus just trying to keep things working. You’ll quickly decide to buy your IT team a drink after work!

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