Why IT has an internal perception problem… and what to do about it

Your IT, it's one of those things that when it works smoothly no-one notices, but when it goes wrong everyone's up in arms. So why are IT teams so maligned and how you tackle the stigma of in-house IT?
Martin Sharpe

The purveyor of sub-standard hardware

According to research by Fellowes, 81 percent of office workers in the UK are spending between 4 and 9 hours sat at their desk, presumably in front of a monitor. They’re essentially spending about 67 full days per year working on their business-issued devices. Added to fact that the majority consider the technology imposed on them to be sub-standard, you can begin to understand why IT bear the brunt of the frustration. Poorly performing devices can ruin the entire employee experience.
However, IT is most likely not at fault here. In terms of providing newer, higher-spec device, their hands are often tied. Frequently budget is assigned based on an expectation of a 3 to 4 year hardware refresh cycle. There is an argument that says budget would be better spent on upgrading equipment when it will more than likely lead to increased productivity and greater employee satisfaction and engagement. But it’s hard to change the mindset.
So, how can we bridge the divide that poorly performing tech has ploughed? The answer, moving to a server-led approach. By hosting desktops, apps and files in the cloud instead of on physical devices IT departments can breathe new life into flagging hardware. The device is simply used to launch a receiver program that acts as a conduit between the device and your cloud-based server. The power is supplied by the cloud so the fact that the physical device in front of you is near old enough to claim a free bus pass becomes irrelevant. Et voila, same old device but slick new user experience, conundrum solved. IT departments can even replace the old device with wallet friendly, desk-liberating thin clients if they like.
Satisfaction and greater productivity can spread quickly, and help increase trust in IT as well as speed adoption of cutting-edge, innovative technology that could create a competitive advantage.

Simon Chapleau – Former CEO, Green Elephant

The not so helpful-desk

IT help-desks haven’t got the best of reputations. Many colleagues find them lacking in courtesy or in some cases just outright rude. While there may be edge cases where this is true the reality is that many help-desks are simply stretched to their limit. It’s understandable that they’re not overly impressed with being interrupted when they’re dealing with an open ticket list as long as their arm as well as being involved in digital transformation projects. The issue is multiplied for help-desk teams that service both internal and external customers. Not only are caseloads higher but priority has to be given to paying customers over colleagues. The feeling of being of secondary importance can lead to internal users resenting their help-desk.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. With a server-led approach first of all technical issues are minimised. With processing power coming from the cloud and everything accessible in one place there is massive reduction in performance and connectivity related tickets. Also, with the server-led approach managed services come into their own. For instance, Desktop 365 is a solution built and supported by cloud infrastructure experts Atlas Cloud. Much of help-desk support can be totally outsourced to the expert service desk as Atlas cloud, allowing IT teams to progress with more pressing projects and have more time for an internal user if they’ve jammed the printer for the 5th time that week.

The innovation bottleneck

‘The stifler of innovation’, ‘where good ideas go to die’, ‘the department of no’. All rather unflattering descriptions of IT departments who have gained a rather unfortunate reputation for standing in the way of progress. Commonly awarded with the title of biggest bottleneck in many companies, IT is seen as the enabler that refuses to enable. Businesses are more and more looking to employees to innovate and look outside the box. However, when they go to IT with an idea that they want to implement or a service they’d like to start using, the request ends up lost in the ether. However, the problem isn’t that IT doesn’t want to help, more often than not it’s the case that they simply can’t help. They’re either too time pressed with incessant support issues to start on new projects or their infrastructure isn’t up to safely managing and integrating new services and systems. Either way the end result is frustration and suppression of future innovative ideas. Innovation becomes a ‘What’s the point?’ concept rather than an exciting opportunity.

So, how can we turn the IT naysayers into ‘yay’sayers? First of all, as previously mentioned, the server-led approach can help to free up some of their time to work on change projects. But looking beyond this it can also simplify the onboarding of new systems and services. Proposed on-premise applications can be virtualised to benefit from being powered by cloud-based servers. Proposed SaaS applications can be secured and controlled. Desktop 365 can bring it all together into one easily accessible yet secure workspace, so IT needn’t worry about compromising the network, or data breaches, or whatever it is that’s feeding their reticence to implement change. Bottleneck cleared, innovation unleashed, productivity and profits supercharged.

If employees do not receive positive reinforcement for their efforts, or even worse, are forced to comply with endless documentation requirements, long development cycles, and corporate politicking, their natural instinct to contribute shrivels. Creativity soon morphs into dysfunction.

The IT crowd

One of the biggest problems many IT teams face is their internal branding. The ‘IT brand’ is something that they certainly have control over, however, marketing is generally not a strong suit. Similarly, IT is not a forte for many of their colleagues, and herein lies the problem. Most users of IT are unable to comprehend or navigate the vagaries of what is involved in IT nor the conditions and restrictions under which the department must work. All they can see is system downtime and stagnating projects. Because of these issues IT teams have become known as ‘the department of no’. They appear to be siloed off from the rest of the business, in part because often they’re physically housed on a different floor or a dusty corner of the office, but also at times because they view themselves as being a different breed. 

There’s plenty that IT can do to redress the balance here. First of all, IT should become a central hub for any business, they should be visible, approachable, and integrated with the rest of the business. In order to achieve this communication is obviously key, keeping colleagues up-to-date with ongoing projects and helping them understand the pressures the team are under can go a long way to developing understanding, empathy and a more collaborative environment. Beyond this, technology can undoubtedly help. Desktop 365 can take care of so many of the internal IT issues that bog down IT departments as well as remove the fear and risk out of implementing new systems and technologies. This helps IT teams to provide a more seamless experience for their users and also frees up their time to work on transformational projects that other departments are crying out for in order to drive the business forward.

In many organizations the IT department has a reputation that it is “the department of no” and actively resists assisting other teams with innovative projects that need customized IT solutions.

The tech dinosaur

Another likely reason for the unfair perception of IT is the disparity between consumer tech and business tech. In their personal lives people have become accustomed to using the latest technology. Whether it’s the latest smartphone with an app for everything or a new release laptop with it’s sleek look and swift processing speeds, consumers have been spoilt with a plethora of mobile technology which allows them to stay connected anywhere and at any time. Business tech finds it hard to keep up with these expectations and budgets can’t stretch to fancy devices for every user. Similarly, business applications need to be carefully considered for best fit, and sometimes that means working with perhaps not the quickest or most accessible solution.

Desktop 365 can help to bridge the technology gap. By using server power it allows old tech to perform like new tech without having to invest in new devices and also enables the device-agnostic remote access that today’s worker craves. On top of this the virtualisation of legacy and on-premise apps can transform them into an experience more in-keeping with expectations, making them accessible anywhere, any time and a device of the users choosing.

Redressing the balance

The IT perception problem is real, it definitely exists, I’ve seen it first hand, I’ve even fallen into the trap of thinking IT is useless myself. It’s not of course, but that’s the thing about perception, it doesn’t always equate to reality. It’s clear that much needs to be done to address the negative stigma unfairly attached to IT. It can partly be solved by a shift in culture and further assisted by making use of emerging technologies such as Desktop 365. Nurturing an environment of openness and collaboration along with putting an end to the blame game is essential. After all, as the old adage goes, there’s no such thing as an IT project, only business projects.

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About Desktop 365

The new standard of desktop computing, Desktop 365 is a plug-and-play Citrix and Microsoft solution – delivered by Atlas Cloud.

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