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The paramount importance of the IT department

By Jean-Claude Elias - Jun 14,2019 - Last updated at Jun 14,2019

To a company or an organisation, the IT (Information Technology) department is what the nervous system is to a human body. Nothing would function without it. This is hardly an exaggeration.

Ever since business has been structured in a modern manner, the accounting and the HR (the human resources, previously called “personnel administration”) departments, among others, have been found in virtually all companies, enterprises, organisations and corporations. At least once they reached a certain size.

For the last thirty years or so, another department has joined them, gaining more and more significance, to the point of exceeding all others with time. It is the IT department. Understanding its importance is easy. Everything goes through computers and networks these days, including the workflow of older departments such as accounting and HR. They just cannot operate anymore without proper, efficient and fast servers, networks and application software.

In other words, virtually all functions in an organisation would simply come to a full stop if the IT would fail. The fact that ever larger parts of work are done online since circa 2010 adds to the importance of the IT team. Think of online banking, shopping, airline reservations, and such. Would they work at all without top notch, reliable IT services?

And, yet, some organisations fail to understand this and take an outdated, rather conservative approach to their handling of the IT operations. In their mind information technology is needed alright, but only like a burden you cannot do without, like just another additional accessory, a department that costs a lot in the end, and whose significance, whose role is greatly exaggerated. Whereas it really should be sitting at the top of the organisational pyramid.

The fact is that IT does cost a lot. When you add up the price of the qualified human resources required to manage and to handle it properly, the cost of the equipment, of the software and the never-ending upgrades, the money and the effort it takes to replace server computers every six years or so, you get an alarming bill. And yet, it is more than worth it in terms of ROI (return on investment). This is not a department where you can cut corners, where you would skimp. Good managers know it all too well.

In business size matters. The larger the corporation and the readier it is to invest big amounts of money and effort in its IT services. Take Amazon for instance — probably the ultimate example. You can say that its success story is 75 per cent IT and 25 per cent good management, innovative, daring ideas and warehousing.

However, smaller businesses should realise that betting on IT from the very start is the way to ensure growth, profitability and sustainability. On the other hand, organisations that are not built for profit-making, such as government institutions for instance, face a different difficulty: they have to work on pre-defined, often tight budgets, while they still have to run efficient IT departments. Theirs certainly is quite a challenge.

Back to businesses, and to name only a few striking success stories of IT teams among Jordan’s large companies: we can cite the Arab Bank, Aramex, the Housing Bank and Hikma Pharmaceuticals. It is not an overstatement to say that the quality of their IT services directly helped them grow and become what they are and as profitable as they are, in addition to the great reputation they enjoy with the population.

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