What is IT? 

The term “IT” often seems to be a nondescript term used for anyone who works with technology of any kind. From the “pimply faced youths” who can just about start up a PC, to extremely skilled software/hardware professionals, all are lumped together as working “in IT”.

In fact there is no reason why such diverse technological skills should be lumped together at all, other than that it compartmentalises all technology under one umbrella.

A possible reason for this, is that the “barrier to entry” for working with technology is very low. Everyone has some or other technological skills nowadays, so it is only a short step away from “being into IT”.

However when it comes to highly skilled individuals, the barrier to entry is much higher as it takes a fair amount of skill and effort to become really good in a particular technology field. Of course one can also do a generalised IT course, although this arguably makes one a “jack of all trades and master of none”.

This disparity and uncertainty in skill sets also means that the IT industry is highly unregulated and companies often receive poor services and products, which in turn is also reflected in the way that companies deal with IT.

For example, larger companies should have IT represented at executive level because having the right technology is strategically imperative for the company’s success in the market place. However, many usually have a couple of IT “geeks” tucked away in the basement struggling to keep the company’s technology afloat on a shoestring budget.

All technology investments are treated as cost decisions rather than as strategic business decisions. Hence companies investing in specific technology typically opt for the cheapest rather than the strategic choice. While cheaper now, it inevitably proves more expensive in the longer term as this equipment often does not meet the company’s business needs.

On the other hand, smaller (SME) companies often treat technology as an unavoidable expense – and usually cannot afford dedicated IT resources within the company. IT responsibilities tend to fall upon the employee who happens to have the most IT knowledge. Again, this means that the IT investments are often not necessary suitable for the company’s business needs.

Buying “cheap” in the shorter term often proves more expensive in the longer term as the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) is usually higher because of all the support, upgrades etc that are needed to support technology that is not right, right from the start.

So how should companies approach as well as invest in IT? In short, “IT infrastructure investments should be regarded as simply too important and too expensive to be ignored, ill managed or left to non-management IT-only specialists.

If companies want to exploit the business potential of modern IT fully, then infrastructure and relevant investment assessment should be at the top of the management agenda, and should be considered both as a business and technological decision”.