Many companies still have a separate IT department, and that’s fine for an organizational chart, but in this modern age where technology is everywhere and influences almost every aspect of our lives, the IT department is a vital part of your business. It has a critical role to play and, and like all departments, must be tightly knit into the cultural fabric of your company.
Your IT department’s role is more than just “tech support.” All its functions should be considered from the cultural perspective of your business– as in, how can your IT department help your company deliver on its mission and support other teams in doing the same?
Here are five things your IT department can do to add value and support a strong organizational culture:
Most people do their best work when they are free to choose their own tools and instruments. It’s the same at companies: People do good work when they have the freedom to choose their tools. We’ve all been stuck using a device that makes us want to pull our hair out, and that’s not conducive to a pleasant working environment or good work.
Allowing people to use devices and apps of their choice will enable them to do much better. It could even improve the working environment by lowering aggravation levels. That’s why the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) revolution in IT is such a big deal. It enables people to do their best work and supports workplaces that encourage diverse cultures. In addition to allowing people to use the devices and apps of their choice, IT departments should ask how they can support people in using their preferred devices and apps.
A major role of the IT department in any business is to protect the business’s devices and data. Having a BYOD policy in your business does come with a downside. Supporting many different devices and apps creates challenges, particularly around security and online safety. Fortunately, there are a number of security measures IT departments (and businesses in general) can use to safeguard devices and data:
- Have a clear, strong BYOD policy
- Use anti-malware software
- Use a Virtual Private Network
- Put proper access controls in place (particularly for sensitive data)
- Practice good password habits
- Use two-factor authentication wherever possible
These security measures will enable your business to accommodate diversity and employee freedom, as well as protect your business.
Prepare for Disaster
As companies become more connected, they become more vulnerable to disasters that can take down entire systems. IT departments can help prepare for these with disaster management plans and backup systems.
When they do it alone, and a disaster hits, it’s often not enough to allow work to continue. That’s why the IT department has a critical role in getting people to think about what to do if things go wrong so everyone collaborates in building a culture of business continuity.
Give Your Business an Ear for Customers
A lot of an IT department’s time is dedicated to spreading information about the business’s products and brand message to customers, usually via social media, email, websites, or advertisements.
However, all of that awareness building is useless if there’s no way for customers and potential customers to talk to real people. IT departments must make sure customers’ messages can be heard through any medium, be it Twitter, email, live chat, or social media.
You’ve probably heard many people claim to be technology specialists. While not everyone is a technology specialist, most people are “technologists” because almost everyone uses technology regularly. So if people have great ideas for the good of the business, your IT department should always answer with, “How we can do this to help our customers?” before they resist with, “We can’t do this” or “This is not approved.”
This is probably the biggest role for IT departments: bringing people’s ideas to life with the support of technology and making customers’ lives better. Unfortunately, this role’s importance isn’t often recognized and does not get the attention it needs. Encourage your IT department to support innovation. It will help your business in the long run.
While challenging at times, it’s essential to align your IT department’s goals with your business goals and company culture. This alignment is what creates a strong organizational culture!
If you have any other ideas for how IT can support a strong organizational culture, please tweet at @CultureIQ and include #ThinkCulture in your tweet. Your idea might be featured in future content!