There’s a massive disconnect between what executives and IT leaders think the function of corporate information technology should be, and what it actually is. According to a McKinsey survey, 76% of leaders know that IT should be a business partner, actively helping to shape overall business strategy, but only 27% say that their organization is structured that way. Almost 50% of respondents to the survey say that, at their companies, IT is treated as a supplier, simply managing technology services, rather than helping to guide key business objectives through innovation.

Information Technology as a Business Partner

Why isn't IT seen as a business partner?

One of the major barriers to implementing a more functionally useful IT department is the fact that, when IT is treated as a supplier, much of the team’s time is spent dealing with internal tickets that come with repeated questions, policing emerging threats, and trying to simply keep on top of the tangle of services other orgs require to do their jobs. When the IT team is doing all of that, how is there time left for true business partnership? And at what point do employees start looking for their own solutions, bypassing IT entirely, in favor of saving time — without thinking about the possible chain reaction it’ll set off?

How Next-Generation Knowledge Management Drives IT Business Innovation

A separate McKinsey article points out that one of the reasons that IT is often seen as a bottleneck by other departments is that too much of their time is taken up with administrative tasks, with only 10% being spent on business-differentiating activities: “As any investor would tell you, place your resource bets where you believe there is value. For IT, that means flipping the ratio, so that the great majority of IT resources are working on products that build value for the business.”

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How self-service and knowledge management can change the IT function

By implementing self-service options for things like password resets and asset procurement, IT has already started to enable employees to do the kind of chore activities that have traditionally taken up much of the org’s time, creating the opportunity to move closer to a business partner role than that of a supplier.

Adding a forward-thinking knowledge management platform is the next logical step. Making knowledge maintenance a process that everyone owns not only takes the burden off of the IT org, it creates efficiency and security company-wide. When employees can find what they need — and trust what they find — they’re less likely to file a ticket or look outside the company for answers altogether, reducing the time spent by IT on administrative tasks, giving orgs more time to focus on hitting KPIs, investigating and implementing new business solutions. Being a great business partner, instead of a supplier, means driving business innovation. Self-service shouldn’t just be limited to button clicks; it means creating a smarter company, one where every employee has the tools to be self-sufficient.

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