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In addition to not emphasizing the back office as much in your IT portfolio (as we discussed in my last post), let’s start thinking creatively about how best to optimize technology in the sourcing industry. As Galen Gruman from Infoworld says in this article, it’s not true that IT needs to align to business – “implying that IT is not part of the business in the first place. In fact IT is essential to the business and should be as much a part of the strategy, development and execution teams as any other group”.
New ways to use technology
As I said in my last post, we cannot limit the IT function to simply ensuring that everything works. Businesses want strategic input, and we explored a few areas in which IT can contribute and really give a company a competitive edge. As Gruman says, “If you look at where the technology jobs are these days, it’s in the areas of architecture, design, solutions engineering, innovation, project leadership, and emerging technologies.”
Firms want strategic IT and new ways to hit their client base, and these kinds of functions are ones that few outsourcing destinations are good at providing. Most outsourced projects today are simply thrown over the fence with a budget and instructions attached. That has worked well until now, but the recession has made it so that firms must innovate with IT in order to survive. India is providing some higher value services in this field, and so is Latin America. I recently spoke to a senior Alsbridge executive who told me that sophisticated IT infrastructure and applications are what firms are heavily focusing on in Latin America. It’s a clear distinction between software design and software support. Both are required, but companies increasingly want the first.
Tech savvy outside IT
Gruman suggests going beyond solely the IT department in your business to find the functions you need. “These days, product designers are increasingly using the same technologies that IT does, as well as specialty ones IT doesn’t“, he says. “As these technologies become more powerful, they are more likely to interact with back-office systems such as customer support, sales management, CRM, SCM and so on.”
He recommends that product designers take over the innovative front-office IT work like social networking and mobile apps, while the back-end ERP, backup and networking is kept for a section of your IT department. Or even better, outsourced. As we said last time, these are functions that you don’t need to have ownership of.