How to position IT at the edge of corporate innovation

Help your organization embrace a human-centric mindset to IT with these four tips.

Image: Tim/Adobe Stock

The U.S. Department of Labor has found careers in IT to be among the most in-demand professions across the country with an average growth rate of 13%.

There is a good reason for that growth, too. Today, approximately 12 million IT professionals in the United States handle everything from managing printers and laptops to providing tech support for end-users. They are also responsible for many of the core cybersecurity functions that keep modern organizations running and secure. Now in this era of remote work and cloud-powered technology, IT departments are driving the technological innovation that makes organizations more efficient and profitable. But this view isn’t always widely held.

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The idea that IT is only a cost center to be managed couldn’t be farther from the truth. Unfortunately, this outdated notion has persisted and it ignores the reality that IT is the beating heart of the organization, powering every other department. At all levels, the perception of IT needs to change to one that is solution-oriented and a core driver of innovation.

Changing this perception can be difficult, but there are changes IT leaders can implement to alter how the IT department is viewed and integrated across the entire organization. When IT is seen as a partner and a contributor towards growth, the benefits can go far beyond efficiency and productivity gains – it can trigger entirely new ways of working. Here are four best practices for IT leaders looking to be more connected with the rest of their organization and a true champion of innovation.

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Four best practices to elevate the perception of IT

Make a good impression

The IT department is often the first interaction a new employee has with the company after the interview process and the last one when leaving. These initial and final impressions matter. Give IT professionals the time to build a connection. While an onboarding process can be done almost automatically without human intervention, spending an extra few minutes to speak with the new employee and walk them through what technology they have at their disposal can go a long way.

This first interaction is also an important moment to reiterate the role of IT and how they can best support the end user. Making new employees aware of the types of devices and services available will help them be more productive and give them a reference they can turn to with questions.

Focus on facilitating dialogue

IT should not be a silo. They should be seen as resources for employees, which can only be done if there is a line of communication between IT and the rest of the organization.

Setting up regular meetings with department leaders can help IT develop a technology strategy that helps them reach their goals. This could be as simple as reviewing and managing new software or as complicated as managing and optimizing cloud resources. The point is that providing a way for two-way communication between IT and other business units can help IT identify issues before they become a problem or gain insights into the needs of employees.

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Also, when changes are made to tools or applications that employees use regularly, these can’t be done in silence. IT must create clear communication guidelines — whether as a one-off or regular correspondence like a newsletter through calendar invites that alert users when scheduled maintenance or updates are planned. Not only is this a best practice, but it also can reduce the risk of shadow IT. If employees don’t understand the reason behind a decision, they may take the matter into their own hands and use unauthorized applications. This is a real security concern that has only grown as more employees are working from outside of the office.

Ensure technology makes endpoint management unintrusive and end-users productive

Software that takes five minutes to load, laptops that can’t connect to home office equipment and frequent device crashes are all issues that IT can solve to keep employees productive. Beyond performance issues, unmanaged devices can lead to security vulnerabilities and, in the worst case, downtime caused by ransomware.

While we can’t overlook the importance of making updates to devices, it should be done in a manner that minimizes the impact on the end-user. The good news is modern remote access tools have led to simpler, painless endpoint monitoring and management, enabling the maintenance and patching process to happen automatically behind the scenes.

Give power back to the people

IT doesn’t need to handle every request. There are simple tasks like the dreaded password reset that shouldn’t require a help desk ticket to fix. Self-service IT portals let employees get problems fixed fast, allowing IT to focus on more impactful business projects.

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The concept of “self-service” has extended to many parts of our daily life, and the result has been greater convenience and a faster resolution of problems. No user wants to wait around for hours to have IT restore a file they accidentally deleted, especially when restoring a single file from a backup is an easy task. New IT operations software includes more and more self-service options, and with just a little training, end-users can easily solve many of the basic challenges they run into on a daily basis.

Embrace a human-centric mindset

Understanding the above four best practices will help transform your organization into having a human-centric mindset to IT – a mindset that focuses on serving the people behind the devices.

IT leaders today aren’t just managing devices, they’re managing individual people and their relationships with technology. Now is the time to elevate the perception of IT and make others aware of the vital role that IT plays in driving innovation.

Shane Stevens, CTO of NinjaOne

Shane Stevens is the chief technology officer of NinjaOne where he oversees teams of developers dedicated to advancing Ninja’s new product lines. Shane has a rich background in research and development, bringing new software to market, and directing DevOps initiatives that improve the security and efficiency of the software development process. Shane is deeply familiar with and connected to the IT software ecosystem and brings the skills needed to take NinjaOne’s technology to all new heights.

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