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Transforming IT Operations: From Cost Center to Strategic Enabler

Empowering IT Operations

Historically, IT operations have been seen to absorb significant portions of an organization’s budget and are considered a necessary expense rather than an integral part of a business strategy. We say it’s time to change that perception and challenge companies to consider IT organizations as drivers of strategy, growth, and innovation.

“A well-run IT Department can be a powerful catalyst for progress, generating new opportunities, fostering innovation, and boosting efficiency and productivity across the entire organization.”

In this blog, we’ll explore the hurdles associated with this impression and delve into the transformative steps that can elevate IT from a cost burden to a key driver of strategic initiatives.

The challenges of IT as a cost center

It’s important to start by identifying why IT operations have cultivated the misconception of an expense rather than a driver of strategy. This perception stems from several challenges, including:

  • Cost-centric focus: When IT is primarily viewed through a financial lens, its contributions to business innovation and growth are often overlooked.
  • Communication gap: A lack of effective communication between IT teams and other business units can result in a failure to align IT initiatives with broader organizational goals.
  • Complexity and resistance to change: Legacy systems and resistance to change can hinder IT’s ability to adapt to the dynamic needs of the business. 79% of organizations say legacy apps hinder digital transformation!
  • Poor visibility: A lack of data and insights into IT operations and investments can lead to a lack of understanding around ROI. For example, over three-quarters of IT leaders (78%) say a lack of visibility is holding them back from achieving greater process optimization.

Transforming IT into a strategic enabler:

Transforming IT departments into strategic enablers involves adopting a proactive and value-driven approach. To shift the perception of IT from a cost center to a strategic enabler, organizations must embrace a mindset that positions IT as an integral part of the business strategy. This involves:

  • Alignment with business objectives: IT initiatives should be closely aligned with overarching business objectives to make sure technology investments contribute directly to organizational success.
  • Collaboration and integration: Foster collaboration between IT teams and other departments, breaking down silos to ensure that technology solutions meet the diverse needs of the entire organization.
  • Agility and flexibility: Embrace agility and flexibility in IT operations to respond rapidly to changing business requirements.
  • Leverage data and analytics: Use data and analytics to drive strategic decisions and optimize IT investments.

Investing in the right technology: 

To help IT avoid some of the challenges detailed above, it’s important to make sure your teams have the right technology available to them. While investing in new technology is an initial cost to the business, the ROI is significant. With the right platform, IT teams can improve end user experience, tighten security, reduce costs, and evolve IT operations from cost center to strategic enabler. 

As Sarfraz Ali, VP EMEA at Smartsheet, explains, “Technology can help organizations gain visibility and control of their data, which can strengthen connections between C-level leaders and the rest of the business, breaking down siloes between teams… data visibility can also clarify key performance indicators and help connect employees to the company’s strategic vision.” 

One of the pivotal ways to transform IT into a strategic enabler is through the adoption of cutting-edge technologies such as AI and automation. These technologies can revolutionize IT operations by: 

  • Enhancing efficiency: Automation streamlines routine tasks, allowing IT professionals to focus on more strategic, value-driven activities. According to research, 85% report that eliminating manual processes would allow IT to focus on more purposeful work.  
  • Predictive analytics: AI enables predictive analytics, helping IT teams anticipate issues before they arise and proactively address them. Forrester suggests that with AI initiatives, companies will be able to boost productivity and creative problem-solving by 50%. 
  • Cost optimization: Automation not only reduces manual effort but also enhances resource allocation, leading to cost savings and improved operational efficiency. A huge 90% of organizations say that automating IT is a priority for them.

Transforming IT operations into a strategic enabler also brings with it a variety of long-term benefits, such as:

  • Innovation acceleration: By aligning IT with business objectives, organizations can leverage technology to drive innovation, introducing new products and services to stay ahead in the market.
  • Enhanced customer experience: Strategic IT operations contribute to improved customer experiences through the implementation of innovative technologies, personalized services, and seamless digital interactions.
  • Competitive advantage: Businesses that view IT strategically gain a competitive edge by leveraging technology to outpace competitors, respond swiftly to market changes, and capitalize on emerging opportunities.

In conclusion, the transformation of IT operations from a cost centre to a strategic enabler is a crucial journey for organizations to thrive in today’s digital era. By addressing challenges, fostering collaboration, and embracing transformation, businesses can position IT as a driving force behind innovation, growth, and sustained success. The long-term benefits extend beyond mere operational efficiency, offering a strategic advantage that propels organizations into the forefront of their respective industries.


The FORRESTER WAVE™: End-User Experience Management, Q3 2022

The FORRESTER WAVE™: End-User Experience Management, Q3 2022