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November 16, 2018
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November 16, 2018

Extending Your Sphere of Influence

The more you know, the further you can go. As information management technologies converge, so must your knowledge expand to incorporate all the components of the new computer universe. As developers depend more upon containers and software-defined networks and storage, your influence over how your enterprise does business grows along with your knowledge. Be the glue, the center of your organization’s computing universe by bringing together knowledge on every level of the stack.

Some companies still see Information Technology (IT) as a big cost-center, a drag on their balance sheet. Anyone who could help them turn that debt into credit would be considered a tremendous asset. That someone could be you.

Your Sphere of Influence

You may feel that your “sphere of influence” is very small, limited to the tasks you perform each day. The fact is, though, that the fertilizer you need to grow that sphere comes in the form of contributions you make that grow the company’s bottom line profit. When you begin to think about it this way, focusing your attention on finding those contributions you can make which would make the company more profitable, you’ll be amazed at how quickly your sphere of influence expands!

Ask yourself how you can dramatically increase efficiency and effectiveness in your organization without additional investments. Take something you consider to be a “necessary evil” and convert it into one of the greatest strategic weapons in your arsenal. Turn a big frustration into your greatest source of innovation.

This may all sound like nothing short of alchemy, and very “pie in the sky” yet companies like yours are achieving it every day, and you can help yours do it too! One tool that may help you organize your thinking is called the IT maturity model.

Maturing Your Company’s Use of IT

The first thing you’ll need to do is to determine where your company is on the model:

Level 0 – Everything must start somewhere, and business IT is no exception. Companies in startup will very naturally purchase some computers. It’s considered a necessity. But most will do so with very little direction or planning beyond choosing their preferred operating platform and hardware manufacturer. Some formal IT Maturity Models refer to this as the “Chaotic” or “Ad hoc” stage. There’s no real plan, no formal management of whatever network infrastructure is installed. There’s nobody really assigned to provide help desk support. If there’s a problem, different people may reach out to different external resources.

If this is where your company is, you have plenty of work to do, but you should translate that into plenty of opportunities to shine.

Level 1 – Realizing that computer support is draining many peoples’ time, organizations start to put more formal structures in place that are responsive to the frustrations people are expressing. Many IT Maturity Models refer to this as the “Reactive” stage. Everything that is done, like putting event alerts and reports into place, or identifying the person in each department that is responsible for IT, is a reaction to a given occurrence. This creates IT silos where different departments use different applications, different data structures, and different protocols. Often the outcome of this is a great deal of firefighting and lost time.

Your goal here is to create greater efficiency by automating clerical functions to improve transaction processing accuracy and speed with the overall goal of reducing operating cost.

Companies that remain at Level 0 or 1 for any length of time end up with personnel who are very frustrated with the “IT department” even if there isn’t one formally. They continue to view IT as a “necessary evil” that may often impede their progress.

Level 2 – Getting to Level 2, often referred to as the “Proactive” stage, is where the real work begins. It won’t be sufficient to simply improve upon what was being done at Levels 0 and 1. The company will need to learn to do new things, gaining proficiency in new skills like network management, user support, planning, and standardization. This will require you to convince executives to adopt a completely new mindset, but it is one that will pay dividends forever.

The focus at Level 2 shifts from a focus on efficiency to effectiveness. More emphasis is placed on enabling cross-functional and multi-departmental processes to overcome the silos created in the early going. Level 2 is more about business integration than just performance.

Level 3 – At Level 3 the IT department’s goals shift to maximizing the value that can be derived from information, technology and technology-based initiatives for the business. People in the business begin to see IT as a service to their department.

Level 4 – Frequently referred to as the “Optimized” or “Value” stage, this is the level at which IT must be fully integrated into the actual operation of the business. Usually led by a C-level executive, the Level 4 IT organization’s services are inextricably linked to specific business processes. You’ll need to persuade senior executives to work closely with you to accomplish that. New skills required at this level include risk measurement and mitigation, greater cost/reward benefit, and a program of continuous service improvement. But the innovation you introduce here increases business agility which makes IT a key partner in making the company more profitable.

Nobody Said It Would Be Easy

The further along the model you want to help take your company, the more you personally will need to know. Leadership always requires knowledge, and expanding your sphere of influence is a leadership exercise, so prepare yourself.

The best way to begin to prepare yourself is to chart your path, design your roadmap, and plan your own educational program to develop yourself as the kind of leader that can turn IT from a cost to a profit center. You’ll find the best possible assistance in this planning comes from your advisors at New Horizons Computer Learning Centers. Reach out today and expand your sphere of resources!

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