What Does a Modern IT Department Need to Thrive?

Is your IT department equipped with the right expertise to balance innovation with operational priorities?

Our digital world is growing at an unprecedented rate. As a result, organizations, regardless of their size and the industries they operate in, will need to have a robust IT department in place to respond to the digital needs of their customers.

Underpinning this modern revolution is IT transformation. Without it, organizations will quickly find they become bystanders in what has become a hugely competitive global marketplace. It’s not enough for businesses to stand still and simply exploit their existing IT assets. An organization must constantly innovate to satisfy the appetite of customers who expect high quality, and most importantly, immediacy from the products and services they receive.

What’s more, technologies like the cloud have given organizations the ability to do much more when it comes to expanding their digital offerings. However, as a result of the law of diminishing returns, the more companies strive to innovate, the more strain they put on their existing IT resources. As a result, businesses are faced with a constantly evolving challenge, as well as an opportunity.

Every company is a tech company

With so much change to respond to, organizations need to look closely at their IT capabilities — assessing if they have what it takes to respond to the huge changes we’ve seen in global markets.

IT departments are central to the fortunes of modern organizations. Historically seen as an operational concern, IT teams are now a strategic necessity for aspirational businesses. In fact, there’s never been more pressure on IT departments.

A business-wide approach

When it comes to facilitating IT innovation, the cloud is essential. However, one of the biggest challenges businesses face is balancing the need to maintain core operations while also innovating. This is where having the right skills and expertise is imperative to a business’ success. Today, some organizations are struggling to roll out a bimodal approach — “keeping the lights on” as well as innovating — due to a lack of skills.

Organizations should consider ways they can achieve the expertise needed, and there’s no one-size-fits-all. Investment in training the IT team is one approach, but these businesses could also benefit from looking for support from a third party, which can provide them with the headspace to focus on business needs first and foremost.

In addition, the most innovative organization will inevitably need more digital expertise the further down the research and development path it goes, as each new innovation will require a whole host of other skills.

What skills are needed?

Strategic direction is becoming increasingly important in the IT department — particularly when it comes to business technology and governance. Security is also a growing concern for many organizations when it comes to the drastically increased threat of being hacked or having data compromised. As a result, it’s no longer enough for IT professionals to be good at the things they were traditionally tasked with doing. IT departments and their staff need to have a “bigger picture” view — particularly given their organization’s increasing reliance on the IT department. As a result, planning and commercial skills will also become increasingly required, as the IT department is linked much more closely to business success in a market.

As cloud technology enables the IT department to better manage complex IT infrastructure, it also gives workers more time to focus on digital innovation and the creation of new products and services.

As well as being more attuned to overarching business goals and the skills needed to achieve them, IT workers also need to have a multi-disciplinary approach to everyday technical skills. As well as the ability to navigate technologies such as the cloud, they’ll need the skills to handle other emerging technologies like DevOps and automation, which will become increasingly relied on by businesses.

Culture and critical thinking

The culture of an IT department also plays a vital role in IT transformation. IT workforces need to have the expertise to drive a business’ cloud aspirations forward, and the multidisciplinary approach and vision to apply technology to a broad range of business challenges.

IT specialists must adopt a greater degree of critical thinking to assess how technology can work better for the business and its core operations. It’s no longer possible for IT workers to work in isolation from the rest of an organization. They should be the vital conduit which not only keeps operations running, but facilitates innovation.

Want to find out more? Check out this video, which takes a closer look at the modern IT department. And visit Rackspace to find out more about the ways we’re helping businesses succeed with the cloud.

John Engates joined Rackspace in August 2000, just a year after the company was founded, as Vice President of Operations, managing the datacenter operations and customer-service teams. Two years later, when Rackspace decided to add new services for larger enterprise customers, John created and helped develop the Intensive Hosting business unit. John played an active role in the evolution and evangelism of Rackspace’s cloud-computing strategy and cloud products. John met frequently with customers to hear about their needs and concerns, and to discuss Rackspace’s vision for the future of cloud computing. John's final positions was as the company’s Chief Evangelist. John is also an internationally recognized cloud computing expert and a sought-after speaker at technology conferences, including CA World, the Goldman Sachs Techtonics Conference and Cloud Expo. He speaks on the future of cloud computing, enterprise cloud adoption, data center efficiency, green data center best practices, and more. Prior to joining Rackspace, John was a founder and General Manager at Internet Direct, one of the original Internet service providers in Texas. John is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio and holds a B.B.A. in Accounting.



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