Top 5 changes IT can make


Information Technology is an integral part of today’s business environment, and with a lot of change happening at a very rapid pace, it’s often difficult and expensive for IT departments to stay ahead. Technology websites Ars Technica recently asked a number of IT experts to list the changes IT departments the world over should make in order to run a more efficient operation.

IT shouldn't be a scary venture for any business (image: stock.xchng)

Consumerisation

Many companies are often unwilling or reluctant to consumerise their networks, but the corporate environment can massively benefit if workers are allowed to connect their personal device to the work’s network in order to receive business email.  “Our users are provided access to company resources via Web services like Outlook Web Access and SalesForce.com. This in turn provided me with the ability to cut back on help desk staff and focus on the job of building the right type of IT structure to promote growth in a new company,” said Ars user severusx.

Training workers

In any business, there is nothing more frustrating than waiting a long time before the IT guy finally makes an appearance. Businesses and large companies can set aside some time and money to train workers on the basics of IT, even if it is just on how to use social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook.  “Training for users would be nice. I know that is a cost sensitive issue for companies, but they would save time and money in the end,” wrote CompSciGuy.  Another user suggested that IT departments should train users in the correct ways of using a company’s IT resources.

“What I’d like to see IT do is to become the keeper of standards and the recommender of methods and ways, presenting the ‘correct’ way to do things for the rest of the company. This lets IT focus on producing and documenting what will hopefully be the best solutions without wasting time on enforcement; at the same time, it gives flexibility at the BU [business unit] level to deviate from standards where it makes sense,” said Pokrface.

Virtualize

Virtualisation can save a company a lot of money and effort, and it isn’t always necessary for workers to have the best laptops when all they are doing is accessing Microsoft Word or Excel. Moving applications into the cloud and allowing users to connect to a server through an internet connection will also free up the IT department from unnecessary call-outs about software not functioning properly.  “The single biggest and best change, from my point of view, is the move towards SaaS/PaaS [software/platform as a service] and virtualization products in small to medium business. When all I have to worry about is an Internet connection and the software development part of an application, it makes my job 100 percent easier,” user severusx added.

Policing

There has been a feeling that IT professionals should dictate and enforce IT policies, but this can sometimes be to the detriment of the company, but many companies are moving towards the thought that IT should avoid dictating business needs. “IT serves the business… IT should never dictate company policy, security or otherwise. IT should translate business needs and priorities into policy that enables users to work with all information technology transparently,” IT expert Devin wrote.  “Amen to that. You have to be careful that the tail doesn’t start wagging the dog when looking at IT,” steviesteveo added.

Back to basics

Having the latest technology to run an IT department is incredibly beneficial, but a lot of companies can’t afford to update their systems, as they didn’t start with the correct basic tools. Starting with the simple basics will make it a lot easier to update and upgrade, and in the long run will cost less.

“Consumerization, Cloud, VoIP, Virtualization – these things are all nice but require the IT department to be evolved enough to do them. As a SysAdmin I still see so many IT teams that can’t get the basics right and instead spend all of their time reacting and fixing the same problems over and over. The single best change for most IT departments would be taking a step back and taking a critical look at what you do and how you do it,” said Ars users flameboy.

It shouldn’t be a scary venture for any company, but working on a clever strategy should in the long run improve staff relations, ease the pressure on IT departments and save the business a lot of money.

Ars Technica sums it up rather nicely, by writing “Clearly, today’s IT departments have problems – but they’re also staffed with people embracing compelling new solutions. IT is changing fast, driven by the proliferation of consumer devices in the workplace, by cloud computing, and by virtualization.”

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor