Neglecting IT can be a costly mistake for companies

BUSINESS boardrooms are dramatically underestimating the role of IT. It has suffered from an image crisis in the past. Management often placed it at the bottom of the agenda, an awkward department that could slow business down.

Improved systems and IT infrastructure add value to a company. Picture: Craig Stephen

In truth, it is a business enabler. If a company has state-of-the-art systems, combined with general know-how, it can thrive.

IT needs to sit at the same level as the likes of finance and procurement when it comes to decision-making. The sooner IT is recognised as a key strand to modern Scottish businesses the better. It may not seem as exciting as striking a new intercontinental supply deal or announcing record-breaking turnover, but these business aspects only function smoothly if essential IT infrastructure is in place.

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Scotland’s business community must leave preconceptions of IT as expensive or unnecessary in the past. Improved systems and IT infrastructure add value to a company. In the right sector, a company’s value could rise by millions. Some firms choose to expand at pace but have out-of-date or ill-fitting systems. This can cause data to be inaccurate or even lost.

No two organisations’ needs are exactly the same. They may produce similar products or network in the same circles as competitors, but they have a unique identity. This should be catered for in IT systems. One company might have conferencing and virtual desktop services as a priority, whereas another could require network management or secure mail and mobility.

All companies, but SMEs in particular, must take advantage of the huge value IT can bring. If a business is to be successful it has to move with the times. IT should have a seat at the boardroom table and an understanding of all business functions. If integrated properly, new technologies, equipment and software packages can be aligned to suit board objectives.

Results show themselves quickly. Tangible, real-world benefits can include improved communication, collaboration, productivity and compliance.

There will no longer be dark shadows hiding in the IT cupboard. IT should be transparent and as valuable to the business as any other department.

• Paul Talbot is chief technology officer at managed IT specialists adept4