“Time to get rid of the IT department?” Not on our watch! 7 reasons why IT departments are here to stay
You might have come across the Wall Street Journal article, “Time to get rid of the IT department”, where the WSJ argues in favor of decentralizing the IT team, and either putting IT stakeholders or technical experts into each and every team, or upskilling existing staff to take ownership over their own IT needs.
At first glance, it might seem to make a twisted kind of sense. After all, if you have tech people working in each department, then they understand the specific business drivers, they can make faster decisions, and gain better visibility over individual group needs… or can they?
Join us as we look at seven clear reasons why decentralizing the IT department just doesn’t make sense, and why we’re rooting for the IT team to stay alive and kicking for many decades to come.
Tool sprawl means too many applications and technologies, especially when they complete the same tasks. When IT is decentralized, the right hand really has no idea what the left hand is doing. This means that the IT guy for Marketing might onboard one piece of software or an application to handle onboarding new leads, while the IT woman for Sales chooses something entirely different. Both of these technologies do the same tasks, probably with some minor feature differences, and now your business has two, when really one would do fine. Now multiply this by the number of departments you have, or even the number of managers.
Of course, once employees start using these tools, even the tiny feature differences become indispensable to the way they work, making it much harder to make a choice about which one should remain, even if you know that you’re suffering from tool sprawl in the first place.
That brings us to our next point — and it’s a big ‘un. When IT staff are distributed across the business, you just can’t get a single pane of glass view into what’s going on. If something unusual happens in your department, you have no idea whether it’s a lone event, something that’s happening with all similar devices across the company, or something that’s happened in the past to another workstation or end-user who works in another team.
In contrast, when you have an IT team in place, you get a complete view of the entire network. You can quickly ascertain if all Mac devices are having trouble connecting to the network, or if the same patches have failed across teams and workstations organization-wide. Without this visibility, you’re further away from resolving problems, because first you need to go around speaking to other stakeholders across the business.
When you have a single IT team, they are incentivized to work as exactly that — a team. They can troubleshoot and support each other’s workloads, and they are all working towards the same goal, which is a highly-performant and secure network. They don’t have a dog in the race of any particular department, and so as an IT team, they can make smart decisions based on what’s best for the business as a whole.
Now think about how conversations go when you have an IT team that’s decentralized across the business. The Product team’s IT staff work Agile and want to get new features out quickly, while the IT guy who works closely with Security feels this is opening the business up to risk. Meanwhile Marketing’s IT personnel don’t even think the feature is good to go yet, because materials haven’t been created and distributed on the right channels. Got a headache yet? When IT isn’t working as a team, confusion and havoc ensue, and that’s no way to run a business.
When visibility is challenged, the first item to take a knock is security. It’s an uphill battle to stay protected from all the common kinds of malware and cyberattack, and it’s harder still if your IT team aren’t all on the same page. Remember that tool sprawl we discussed earlier? Another similar challenge is Shadow IT, where stakeholders onboard new technology without speaking to IT first about the risks. While having IT decentralized in each department might reduce the likelihood of Shadow IT by individual employees, it turns the whole software infrastructure into something complex and clouded. No team really knows what the others are doing, and there is no centralized management staying on top at a high level.
In addition, security tools themselves will suffer from tool sprawl and Shadow IT. If different departments are using different endpoint protection and response, or backup solutions for example, this can’t help but cause confusion and delay if the worst occurs. How are you restoring data and files from for example, and what information has been stored where? One team gets an alert with a root cause for a performance issue, and the mitigation differs between two or even three different security platforms. Who does the business trust? These questions slow down the pace of remediation and recovery, the very last thing you need in a crisis.
With the best will in the world, decentralizing IT cannot help but be more expensive. Start with all those tools and technologies we’ve been discussing, because each department believes they can go it alone. Licenses and subscriptions for these tools add up fast. Next, think about the added resources you need because people are managing a small subsection of the business. Finally, consider the extra time it takes for IT technicians and managers to liaise with one another, scheduling meetings to discuss cross-organizational matters, and going back and forth with no clear hierarchy for decision-making or control.
When you have a single IT team, either outsourced to a managed service provider or an in-house team of IT experts working for your whole organization, you can predict transparent costs that are streamlined to get you the best ROI. Take Atera for example. Not to toot our own horn, but we pioneered the “pay per technician” model, where you can have as many agents as you want on as many endpoints as you manage, and simply pay per technician to utilize the all-in-one software for remote monitoring and management. Technicians can work across departments, skills areas and projects with full visibility, and you’re always just paying for one tech stack and one FTE. Simples.
One of the arguments made by the WSJ, is that IT automation has made it simpler to allow less-technical staff to take the reins over IT roles in their own departments. The truth is, IT is actually more complex than ever before. Sure, there’s such a thing as no-code and low-code development, but DevOps teams hold a sophisticated role in the company, and it can’t be replaced by staff who are capable of a quick drag and drop. The reason for low-code/no-code is to avoid repetitive and manual tasks, exactly because there is so much additional work to do. Can less-technical staff handle AI, cloud, blockchain, network security… and the list goes on?
Even if you’re looking for top-quality talent, and you have the budget to attract it, you’re unlikely to have much success offering candidates a limited IT purview. Most IT experts will understand the limitations of decentralized IT, and want full control and visibility to do their job to its best standard. The last thing a talented employee wants is to walk into a job rife with communication and security problems on the horizon. The result? Lower quality or entry-level employees taking on more than they can chew.
A single IT team means having a single vision. Instead of each department onboarding cloud initiatives, smart cybersecurity technologies, employee education or training, and innovative AI or Machine Learning projects on their own schedule, you can get buy-in for a cross-organizational roadmap that brings everyone along for the ride. This stops silos from forming across the business, supports better collaboration and morale, and allows your IT initiatives to become part of the company culture.
As IT is often a cost center, working as a team also gives you a larger budget to play with. By bringing together an IT department who are all on the same page and can work together democratically to choose the right projects and technologies, this budget can be channeled towards the right trends and advances to support your business growth.
Life without IT: zero stars
Whether your idea of decentralized IT is an IT pro in every department, or whether it’s the more extreme, let the departments take ownership over their own technical problems — it’s a pie in the sky kind of pipe dream.
IT is not a “nice to have.” It’s a necessary strategic function in the business, one which reduces risk, supports a strong cybersecurity posture, improves network performance, and looks after both employee endpoints and unattended devices across the organization. A centralized IT team is less expensive, more secure, and has greater visibility. It promotes stronger collaboration, attracts more in-depth expertise, and revolutionizes a business’ ability to achieve transformation.
A single IT team needs a single IT software solution for RMM, helpdesk, remote access, cybersecurity and more. Learn everything you need to know at Atera.com.
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