The role of the IT manager has changed dramatically over the last few years, as has the role of IT. No longer seen as a necessary evil, IT has shifted from being a mere function of business to being an enabler of growth. While the provision and maintenance of the technology infrastructure still plays a part, as does managing third-party suppliers, vendors, staff and operational requirements, IT managers and IT as a whole has become a lot more strategic. This means that IT managers have a lot more to consider, and more to actually manage as a result.
IT strategy driving business goals
This is evident considering that in many organisations there is a drive to align the IT strategy to the business strategy. The benefit? The business has certain goals to achieve and by connecting both aspects, IT can be mapped out to help achieve those goals. IT becomes an enabler, rather than the distractor. In the past, IT support was seen merely as a function, with the IT manager seen as someone who keeps things running, identifies problems and worries about getting the right level of investment approved.
If an IT manager is expected to help drive strategic business goals – how do they find the time? The short answer: by using a range of increasingly sophisticated tools to improve the efficiency of the function.
Consider something like monitoring; there’s a great deal of this that needs to take place in order to ensure the business, its network and its assets keep working.
With the solutions available on the market at the moment, proactive monitoring becomes that much easier, whether it’s during a standard workday (9-5) or outside office hours. These platforms proactively monitor operations and also allow IT managers to gain overall visibility over the entire system, through a web portal, dashboard or app. Getting an early warning of a possible infrastructure or network problem can stop them escalating into full-blown critical incidents requiring substantial manpower to resolve.
Another area that can drain resources and attention is shadow IT. This has been a challenge for organisations for the last few years, driven largely by the use of personal devices on the company network. While shadow IT in the traditional sense is still a concern, un-vetted devices on a company network present a significant vulnerability, there is also a more subtle side to the issue. This almost covert side of shadow IT comes in the form of software. Often, PCs and laptops are bought with a number of software programs pre-installed, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader. If the software is used often and is part of the organisational workflow it will be upgraded and patches will be applied by IT as standard.
However, if the software isn’t used, it may be forgotten about. In this case it wouldn’t be subjected to the constant updates and patches that are necessary to ensure the security around the software is up to spec. As these applications get older, the number of ways they can be exploited by hackers increases and can pose a significant risk to cyber security. The solution? The IT manager and team need to have an awareness of the software that is installed on every single end point. It’s here that a vulnerability monitoring solution can add value by constantly looking at what software is installed across the network and its end points, and compare that with a database of known vulnerabilities.
Essentially IT managers are battling on multiple fronts, so the use of automated, proactive monitoring tools can add tremendous value, freeing up time to focus on strategic initiatives.
IT and the IT manager are integral to business success. But with the changing role of IT and the growing cyber threat landscape, it’s critical that IT is recognised as strategic partner throughout the business. By aligning the IT strategy with the wider business strategy, the IT manager has the opportunity to ensure the board understands the strategic value that IT can deliver. Taking that further, with the right tools and monitoring platforms IT managers can ensure that they are able to monitor their infrastructure, operationally and in terms of cyber security, and deliver that value back to the organisation.