Our world has forever changed and now IT is called to change in kind. New, powerful, and unstoppable forces are reshaping the world of the consumer, our personal lives, and every business. And these same unstoppable forces are colliding in the world of IT.

What is expected and demanded of IT is to keep pace with the mobile workforce, new security threats, Cloud, around-the-clock operations, social media, the blurring of personal/professional, and a shrinking timeline in all that we do. The business needs IT at its best more than ever.

We simply can’t meet these challenges without fundamentally changing the strategy and operations of IT.

This can best be described as a unification of all things IT.

Let’s take a closer look at a few examples of exactly what that means.

The organization and processes of IT have been built and codified over the past 30 years. As such, a complete cleansing is in order, and the need for this is further exacerbated by the new models of business and powerful market forces that are reshaping how we think and how we act.

This calls us to cleanse virtually all of what we do in IT, including a review of all business processes and workflows with an eye to eliminating waste, integrations, manual reviews, queues, and any other action or requirement that slows us down and costs precious time and resources. This is not easy but will pay back to us many times over with tremendous gains in speed and the many benefits of unity.

This is not about efficiency, efficiency is tactical. This is about creating an organization that is agile, scalable and fast. This is strategic.

Unified IT Understands the Need for Speed

The performance of IT is now being measured with a new yardstick. Simply being good and getting our work done is no longer enough. We now need to not only be good, but also very fast. Being fast has virtually no downside, and quantum leaps forward in speed create new opportunities that don’t otherwise exist. Not the least of which is better serving our customers and creating more time to think and find strategic solutions.

Speed generated by IT translates into a boost to the full business that can be converted into a competitive advantage. This is good for everyone and brings IT closer to the business and changes how the IT organization is perceived—another example of how IT can become an engine for innovation and speed. The business needs this leverage more than ever.

Unified IT Makes It Easy

Customers and system users of like ilk today now have a very different expectation for technology—it should be easy and powerful. One or the other is not enough; it must be nothing less than both and the market today has no tolerance for complex, awkward, and difficult-to-use technology.

This easy and powerful model is simply not possible with a fragmented and distracted IT organization that carries complexity into virtually every element of IT. A siloed and complex IT all but assures systems and infrastructure that are segmented and complex.

By unifying IT, we unify our systems, we streamline our processes, we create a new focus on the customer, we implement more agile development processes, we improve systems design and testing, and we deliver easier to use and more robust solutions. All these elements go hand-in-hand to make the experience of the customer easier and more satisfying. It is a beautiful thing to behold. 

Unified IT Eliminates Silos

The organization of IT has been built around functional expertise and silos that we naturally structured around this set of domain-specific functions. But we now understand this is a fundamentally flawed model and brings with it limited visibility, communications, agility, as well as built-in integrations and waste that slows us down.

This waste is nothing less than an anchor cast out the back of the IT boat. This traditional orientation of IT was very much project focused and very much myopic. There is a better way to work—by mobilizing cross functional teams staffed by resources that bring with them the vital technical expertise we need, but working together toward common goals and toward strategic initiatives aligned with the business and with customers. The talented people of IT working together, pulling together, working as one and leaving our traditional silos behind.

Another significant benefit of this model is a shift from optimizing locally, within our silos, to optimizing all of IT. This is a strategic shift and moves us away from what is nothing less than a poison to IT—the mindset and behavior of optimizing locally within our silos moving to optimizing all of IT, recognizing IT is in fact a powerful and wonderful system, in order to better deliver results to the business and to our customers. For a unified IT this is possible, but until that happens across all of IT, it is simply not.

Unified IT Shines a Light on the Customer

The customer is the single greatest source of clarity and focus. Not always closely aligned with the customer, IT moves closer to the customer and with this new model, the full business benefits. This alignment with the customer improves engagement, improves communication and ultimately enables IT to deliver better solutions. The full unified model for IT includes the customer. We are pulling IT together and this new circle of collaboration includes the customer.

With a new engagement model embracing the customer, this reaches across all of IT and brings many natural benefits. One of which is a seismic IT shift—from the inside-out model of traditional IT to an outside-in model of the new IT. This has so many implications to how IT works every day. But that galvanizing force simply can’t come from within and can only come from the customer.

An IT organization that is unified and operating in harmony with the business is a strategic force that changes everything. However, those IT organizations unwilling or unable to rise to the challenges outlined above will all but ensure they will be outsourced completely, or the elements of IT will be transported into the functional organizations in order to perform at the level expected. In either case, the IT we know today ceases to exist.

It is quite a contrast—a new strategic and powerfully unified IT, or the IT that becomes extinct.

Which will you be?

Check out Kevin’s book on Amazon: The Practical Guide To World-Class IT Service Management, and follow him on Twitter @kevinjsmith4IT.