Moving from Information Technology to Business Technology
Upon graduating college in the early 1980s with degrees in accounting and computing information systems in hand, I was hired by a big company as a computer programmer within the data processing department.
Time went by and data processing departments across the country changed their name to Management Information Systems due to their increased emphasis on helping leaders run the company based on the collection, summarization, and analysis of internally processed transactions and external data sources.
Technological advances continued to take place, and the role of internal technology groups expanded and matured. As a representation of this metamorphosis, MIS organizations around the country changed their name again, this time to Information Technology.
The cliché “The only constant in life is change” proves itself correct once more. The role and name of IT continues to evolve as IT departments become even more tied to the organizations they serve. CIOs can no longer simply be the head techie; now they must be knowledgeable business executives who happen to know quite a bit about technology.
With the advent of new technologies such as big data, the Internet of Things, and the enhanced capabilities of mobile devices, new processes must be created for businesses to keep up with their competitors. Because of cloud computing, for the first time in history, IT organizations are competing with technology vendors for the mindshare of their internal business partners. Lastly, social media, from content-marketing and active listening perspectives, has pushed more technology-related activities into standard business functions.
As a result of these exciting and significant changes within IT, its name is again slowly beginning to change to a term that has been bandied about for number of years: business technology.
So, what does this conceptual name change mean to CIOs, IT executives, IT managers, and hands-on IT practitioners? It means that in order to profit from this IT megatrend, they must have a deeper understanding of the businesses they serve, the professions they automate, and how technology is best employed from a business perspective, not a technological one.
If they don’t, business users will begin to move ahead without them, relegating internal IT back to days of data processing departments. Unlike in days gone by, however, this time it will be because the business users have left them behind, showing that IT failed to gain the sponsorship, confidence, and mindshare of the business users they were hired to support.