Measuring value is key to IT managers' success

CEOs, top execs keenly aware networks are key component of business success

After decades of being on the outside of corporate planning, leading IT professionals have cracked the code and are now being perceived as equal partners who contribute to the goals of their corporation. A growing number of IT professionals are being viewed as equal partners in their companies instead of being seen as geeky outsiders, an analyst said at the Department of Defense Intelligence Information Systems conference in Detroit.

“We’ve reached a historic turning point, many IT managers have cracked the code and are now able to describe the benefits of IT in a way that matches corporate executive’s goals,” Richard Hunter, vice president and distinguished analyst for the Gartner Group said May 3. “IT is changing the world. This is the best time ever to be involved in IT.”

The change has come because a growing number of CEOs and top executives realize that networks are a key component in the success of the business. At the same time, many CIOs have figured out how to show that IT is helping the company meet its goals. That’s a marked change from the past, when IT managers talked primarily about data speeds and the number of connections.

“The value is in what the user gets, everyone must always know that quality of service is essential to the completion of the mission. Until you show that you’re providing value for the money, every conversation will be about why IT costs so much and takes so long,” Hunter said.

He stressed the importance of semantics and the need to know the metrics that corporate managers use to determine success. It’s no longer relevant to talk about how IT aligns with the business, which has been the common discussion in the past.

“IT doesn’t align with the business, it is the business, just like sales or manufacturing,” Hunter said. “If IT’s goals are to align with the business, its goals are different than the goals of the rest of the corporation. If your language and goals are different than those used by everyone else, you’ve taken yourself out of the organization.”

IT managers must also provide services that match the needs of the company. Hunter noted the value of 99.99 percent availability is several times higher than slightly lower uptime. If the organization doesn’t need that level, providing this high reliability adds unnecessary costs.

“The value is not the value of having machines that run 99.99 percent of the time. The value is what the person using the machine can accomplish,” he said.

Although Hunter stressed the importance of metrics for measuring the benefits provided by IT, he also said they are not always quantifiable. “Reducing the cycle time for analysis is deeply beneficial even if you can’t put a firm dollar value on it,” he said.

About the Author

Terry Costlow is a contributing writer for Defense Systems.

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