On the topic of tech purchasing in business, Chuck Robbins, the CEO of Cisco Systems, told delegates gathered at the Cisco Partner Summit: “Never has technology been more important to customers and never have they cared less about the details of that technology.”
IT is a fundamental enabler of business and in the past IT administrators have often been frustrated and stymied by corporate attitudes that IT is a cost to be contained and streamlined.
But attitudes are changing and business is waking up. Not only is the C-suite interested in technology, but individual lines of business (LoBs) are becoming the primary drivers of new business.
The digitisation of business is further accelerating this trend, with business leaders taking a direct interest in how technology can help the business get closer to the customer.
Businesses are learning to appreciate the power of technology and want more, which is changing the buying dynamic.
In years gone by, decisions about technology were made by the IT side, with some consultation with the business. Today, technology decisions are being made by the business, with IT being consulted but not necessarily being given the final say. If the IT department baulks, the business will go around them.
What is becoming clear is that businesses seek technological solutions to its problems and, as Robbins points out, do not particularly care how it works.
In response, IT is left resenting the loss of control. At the same time, businesses do not want to learn about technology or change for the sake of technology. This leaves tech vendors skewing wildly between selling to IT and the business.
This state of affairs represents a sea change. IT will never again be the sole decision-maker in technology matters. Clearly, businesses can no longer ignore technology in the same way they used to.
A new relationship is being forged with businesses increasingly partnering with IT, treating them as a trusted adviser who knows the technical details and can highlight technical advantages and pitfalls to any given approach.
Businesses are, in turn, expected to listen and create an environment of mutual trust. IT departments are becoming in-house advisers with a vested interest in the company and the C-suite’s project. Department heads are being urged to listen and seek their advice. Having IT play a role in most big projects, early on, is key. Give them a voice and use their technical expertise and experience to your advantage.
In terms of corporate culture, everyone needs to adjust to this reality. IT is part of the business and the business is part of IT. The faster the board gets used to that the sooner the team is able to pull in the same direction. This is the new reality and there’s no going back.