Not long ago, the marketing department was the key driver of business growth. But in today’s digital world—a world immersed in information and transformed by technology—traditional marketing is giving way to data driven marketing.
The result of this marriage of technology and marketing is that companies looking to boost profits and gain competitive advantage need to understand the critical role that the IT department now plays in helping to drive business growth. Even things that we take for granted, like an email management system, require some level of IT know-how.
Fundamentally, the role of an IT department within an organization is to design, maintain, and support an organization’s information technology infrastructure, thus allowing the organization to leverage both information and technology in an efficient, productive and secure manner. Along with meeting an organization’s technical requirements, today’s IT department must also meet a number of the requirements of the business department. No longer the nerdy kid denied a seat at the “cool table”, CIOs are now assuming their proper place among CMOs and CEOs.
Here are some of the key roles that IT departments are playing within today’s organizations.
Business Strategy Development
As organizations adopt big data initiatives to capitalize on huge volumes of insight rich customer data, IT leaders are working directly with other execs to develop an IT strategy centered on the organization’s main business objectives. Such strategies may involve procuring extra IT capacity from outside vendors, customizing existing software, or making other alterations to the IT system to deliver data that business departments can use to gain actionable insights.
Effective communication and collaboration between teams and departments within an organization are essential for success in today’s business world. And it falls upon the IT department to deploy and operate Internet Protocol networks and advanced communication tools to meet the company’s needs. The IT team is also responsible for developing solutions that grant secure access to the corporate network to customers and other necessary outside parties.
Data driven marketing strategies within an organization rely upon the IT department to provide the means for capturing, storing, managing, analyzing and distributing data to business users that depend upon up-to-date information to make strategic decisions. Along with storing corporate information such as sales data, market research, customer data, financial records and other pertinent data securely in the data center, IT teams are also tasked with implementing big data analytics platforms to store, manage and process massive volumes of raw customer data for hidden insights that can inform better decision making and create competitive advantage.
Information Security Management
Recent data breaches at Target and Home Depot underscore the importance of keeping sensitive corporate and customer data protected at all times. With the proliferation of cyber attacks, one of the primary roles of the IT department is to insulate the IT infrastructure and sensitive corporate data from viruses, hackers, and a host of other security threats. Along with deploying the proper tools and technologies to keep data secure, IT leaders need to work closely with HR heads and other C-level execs to make sure that effective security policies and procedures are implemented and enforced at all organizational levels. With the growing adoption of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, allowing employees to use mobile devices for work related tasks, IT departments face new challenges in keeping sensitive data on smartphones and tablets secure.
Training and Support
To stay competitive in the information age, organizations must make sure that IT resources are being fully utilized by their employees. Therefore it is incumbent upon the IT team to provide ongoing training and support to make sure that both management and employees remain up to speed with the latest tools and technologies.