61. Running IT as a Business

November 28, 2018


This is what John Fisher, CIO and Business Executive at Rethinking IT, told us during our next interview:

"I have often heard IT leaders comment on how they know the business better than anyone in the organization because they have a cross-departmental perspective.  While I agree that IT has a unique perspective, I contend that IT does not really have a good understanding of what it is like to actually run the business.  IT often does not have P&L responsibility and does not have to meet quarterly revenue targets, but your business partners do and that’s what separates knowing about the business from running the business.

So, what does it really mean to Run IT as a Business?  It is something that many CIO’s have thought about and it is a whole new way to look at the IT function.  In most cases, IT operates as a cost center or a shared service, not as a profit center.  Running IT as a business is not really about IT being a profit center; it is about IT running as if it was a business.  IT departments have customers like any business, but do you have a marketing plan, do you have a product development organization, how aligned are you with the business you serve?"

During this session we did explore the topic of running IT as a business and running IT as part of the greater business outcome of the entire organisation. But we quickly also realised that this very much starts with the mindset of the IT Leader. "Keeping the lights on" is seen as "table stakes" and the real value can only be unlocked if the IT Leader stops seeing themselves as a technical person and starts thinking, talking and acting like a leader and business manager who also knows technology.

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About the author

Business Agility Coach | Abundance Thinker | Helping Mid-Market Companies Evolve by Using the Kanban Methodology
- As trained Industrial Engineer with close on 25 years' experience as IT Professional and Business Executive in the mid-market IT industry, Mathias Tölken loves to share his experiences and expertise with others.

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