IT departments have become an integral part of everyday business. Anyone who only thinks of the provision, guarantee and monitoring of IT infrastructure solutions or eliminating IT problems is making a mistake. IT departments today offer much more than that. In the following sections, find out what distinguishes an innovative and intelligent IT department, which tasks and features they fulfill and how their role will be shaped in the future.
The increasing omnipresence of digital information and communication technologies in the business world can no longer be denied. With a high rate of innovation, more and more sectors, companies and corporate divisions are now being penetrated and transformed by them. This dynamic does not stop at IT departments either. What’s more, they lie at the heart of revolutionary changes.
While just a few years ago, they were mostly seen as supporters, service providers and “providers of IT infrastructure”, today, in many places, they are taking on the role of “business transformers” and “game changers”.
But what or who is actually behind the “IT” department?
Definition – What Is An IT Department?
The “IT department” is an organizational unit within a company that is responsible for all possible aspects of information and communication technology. The same comprises a group of employees with technical, business and operational expertise who ensure that all information and communication solutions are used efficiently, effectively and securely.
Furthermore, innovative IT departments are increasingly concerned with exploring and understanding IT as a company resource and are accordingly involved in the well-considered development of a company.
The Different Areas of Responsibility of The IT Department!
Innovative IT departments form the “nervous system” of a company. Depending on the company, their areas of responsibility are varied and can be roughly broken down into the areas listed: operation, planning, research and development, and projects.
Operations: The main task of the IT department is to manage the IT infrastructure and keep it running. This includes the following activities:
- Installation and commissioning of the latest IT workstations for fresh employees
- Processing faults, mainly correcting problems that occur with third-party providers (providers, software manufacturers, etc.).
- Management and support of all technical tasks related to end devices, application software, middleware, server, network, telephony, ERP as well as databases, web applications, home office, IoT and online marketing
- User management through the allocation of user rights and IT resources
- Patch Management
Planning: IT departments spend most of their work on the conception of all IT activities, IT strategy, IT resources and IT governance.
This includes the following services, among others:
- regular analysis of IT requirements
- Development and ongoing coordination of the IT strategy
- Planning of the required IT resources
- Constant review of IT services and further processing of feedback from the business areas
- Conception, implementation and ongoing alignment of the data security strategy under the leadership of the IT security officer
- Conception, implementation and ongoing adjustment of the GDPR-compliant data protection strategy in coordination with the data protection officer
- Coordination and monitoring of data access and user authorizations
Research and development: To intensify competitiveness, resilience and future viability, the area of ”research and development” is becoming increasingly important. The fundamental tasks of the IT department in this area include:
- Assessment of IT innovations concerning their use in operations, such as cloud computing, machine learning or artificial intelligence
- continuous development of the information and communication solutions used to increase user comfort, efficiency and security
- Further development of applications to automate business processes
- Presentation of technical innovations in other business areas
Projects: Another critical area of activity of the IT department is implementing projects and introducing innovations. Typical work of the IT department in this area is:
- Implementation of new applications as well as systems
- Changes and expansions of IT in connection with additional workstations, recent locations or updated applications
- Participation in digitization projects of departments
What Types Of IT Teams Are There?
To be able to meet the increasing business requirements and tasks, all areas of responsibility and powers in innovative IT departments are separated and coordinated in different IT teams:
- IT service management teams/IT operations teams/IT support teams: This category of IT team focuses on setting up a robust IT ecosystem to support and maintain business operations.
- IT project teams: IT project teams are put together to solve specific problems, implement an IT system or implement a change. These are usually focused on a one-time release or a release group and dissolve as soon as an IT project is completed.
- IT process teams/business support teams: In contrast to the other IT teams, these teams work as semi-independent IT departments for various company areas. You are responsible for the IT systems of a particular business process, which you set up, regulate and optimize. These include, for example
- ERP-Systeme (Enterprise-Resource-Planning),
- HRM systems (Human Resource Management)
- CRM-Systeme (Customer-Relationship-Management)
The IT Job Disciplines Of Modern IT Departments!
The job disciplines of the people who work in IT are just as varied as the services that can be found in innovative IT departments. Therefore, in modern IT departments, alongside IT specialists with technical know-how, you will find employees with a business and operational background, such as
- Project managers are responsible for coordinating the activities of team members.
- Company and IT analysts ensure that efficiency is optimized, costs are minimized, and business requirements are analyzed for most information and communication technologies.
- Business process designers design, create and optimize both business processes and system flows to improve process efficiency.
- IT engineers/developers perform the production, maintenance and repair of hardware, software and other IT services.
- Testers and quality controllers perform tests to verify that IT systems are working as intended.
- User interface designers develop graphical user interfaces so that end users in the company can interact with IT systems in an efficient, accessible and user-friendly way.
- Data scientists and analysts focus on data integration and the usability of the data for decision-making.
- Solution Architects are responsible for creating and designing IT systems with different components, including the system interfaces, which are central to scalability and interoperability.
- IT experts for IT security, information security and Internet security focus on protecting the company from internal and external IT threats and risks.
From Service Provider To Business Enabler!
Today there are several reasons for companies to increase development significantly. They range from implementing new inspirations and opening up new markets to market leadership. But the further a company grows, the greater the need for an increasingly larger IT department, which increasingly assumes various strategic roles:
- The Value Player: The IT department focuses on cost reduction and operational cost efficiencies in this role. In this regard, as much as possible is standardized, and every IT service is rolled out as extensively as possible to increase the return on investment.
- The operator: The IT department maintains ongoing IT operations in this role. It tries to provide IT-supported operating processes and services of the highest possible quality.
- The technology leader: In this role, the IT department sees itself as a pioneer of modern technology trends and innovation. By introducing new or improved technologies, it tries to secure critical competitive advantages for the company in good time.
- The service broker: In this task, the IT department coordinates, integrates and monitors external IT service providers.
- The business transformer: In this function, the IT department significantly contributes to implementing new business processes and optimizing existing business processes through digitization.
Conclusion: The IT Organization Is On The Cutting Edge!
The fact is IT departments are becoming increasingly relevant. They are no longer responsible for providing and ensuring a reliable IT ecosystem but for the tailor-made use of new information and communication technologies to support companies in intensifying their output and ensuring critical competitive advantages.