According to a survey of firms spread across the United States and Europe, 44% of businesses affirm they plan to expand their information technology (IT) budgets in 2020.
That’s a $4 trillion vote on the existential importance of technology to companies in the age of deep innovation. If technology in business to you is a sink or swim matter, then you need all the right information. Here’s a look at the role of IT in business and in what direction it’s quickly evolving.
Why Is Information Technology Important in Business?
Over the years, technology’s moved from being a novelty to underpinning every sector. Through this journey of growth, IT has taken on roles supporting the overall business. These include:
1. Improving Communication
Before today’s technology boom, business communication was inefficient.
If you needed to reach someone and they were not near a fixed landline, you had to wait for them to show up. If you had an emergency and needed to speak face-to-face, you had to take time out of work to travel the distance.
Nowadays, IT has helped buoy the way businesses communicate. It has added versatility and efficiency to it. For example, if you need to hold an unexpected meeting, there’s no need to jump on a jet at every instance. You can hold virtual meetings using video conferencing software from wherever you are.
Team members can now access their work-related material and collaborate from any location in the world. If you don’t need your employees to show up to a physical office, they can always work remotely to help cut down on costs.
2. Upgrading Customer Experience
Customer experience is a critical driver of revenue as it can either push away your customers or draw them closer. Technology has helped many firms develop new ways (and improve on traditional ones) that help cement their excellent customer care to keep clients flocking back.
For example, if a customer wants to reach you, but it’s outside of your working hours, you can still accommodate them. Using tools such as email, phone answering services, and instant messaging, you can help your customers get service even after office hours.
Online shopping has now risen to offer shoppers and other clients a more convenient way to make their purchases. Instead of interrupting their day to rush to a physical location, a client can buy from you from the comfort of their home or office.
3. Providing Better Insight for Decision-Making
Few technological breakthroughs have been as impactful in helping businesses make better decisions as data analytics.
As the capacity for collecting and analyzing vast amounts of data grows, so does the richness of the insights you can glean.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, for example, gives you real-time insight into various aspects of your business. By looking at the dashboard, you can instantly detect patterns that help you better weigh the options you have when making a critical decision.
How the Role of IT in Business Is Evolving
As technology keeps growing and presenting new ways to apply innovation to business, the role of IT in helping businesses keeps evolving. Here are some significant changes to keep an eye out for.
1. More Contribution to Company Strategy
Back in the day, IT was seen as a backroom process that mainly contributed to keeping the operational processes going. During company strategy meetings, the executive in charge of IT would hardly be present.
Fast forward to today’s environment, and each department sees the critical need to work closely with IT. No longer seen as a maintenance-oriented department, IT is making significant and direct contributions to overall company strategy.
CEOs are now relying on IT to deliver significant competitive advantages as much as other traditionally vital departments like marketing.
In particular, this shift comes on the heels of the Internet of Things (IoT). As this innovation brings with it what is arguably seen as the next industrial revolution, companies will only rely on IT more to make sense of it and drive new areas of growth from the insights that IT provides.
2. Outsourcing as a Critical Component
Traditionally, several firms approached IT as an in-house affair. That is, they preferred having an in-house IT team regardless of whether it made sense or not.
Over time, things have changed as many of these organizations see the need for relying on experienced outsourcing partners. Instead of being the one in charge of keeping up with every breakthrough in innovation for the in-house IT team to remain as skillful, businesses are working with managed IT service providers who are better placed for this task.
As a result of such partnerships, you can tap into high-level IT skills and technology at a fraction of the cost. Furthermore, outsourcing your IT services means that you get to focus on your core competencies to achieve better outcomes.
The more technology matures and delivers a myriad of application cases, the more businesses will find IT outsourcing companies critical to their success.
3. Employees Needing to Acquire Adjacent Skills
One curious effect of the dynamic shift in IT’s role across the enterprise is that staffers need to pick up other skills to augment their IT chops.
As IT becomes an interdisciplinary force, the employees will need to pick up complementary skills in the other areas to remain effective.
For example, an IT professional will likely need to become familiar with marketing. Such knowledge will help them serve the marketing department beyond only maintaining their equipment to assisting them to see how tech interconnects with marketing.
In addition, as IoT makes machines more intelligent, new skills will become essential. Your IT department will need the expertise to work with the more intelligent system.
Capture the Change in How IT Is Helping Businesses
Many organizations are now alive to how critical IT is for their success. Technology not only supports other processes but also impacts the overall business strategy.
For you to reap maximum dividends from technology, take time to keenly understand the role of IT in business to discover how you can leverage it to take your firm to the next level.
Are you driven to learn all you can about how technology can help your business grow? Check out more of our content for insightful ideas to help you wring every advantage from technology for your firm.