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By 12 June 2014 | Categories: Communications

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Stuart Cheverton from  Hitachi Data Systems South Africa comments on the changing role of IT vendors.

IT vendors are well placed to play a role in bridging the gap between business and IT, says Stuart Cheverton, business development consultant – File and Content Solutions, Hitachi Data Systems South Africa. “Never before has IT played such a crucial role in enterprise success,” says Cheverton, “yet, in many cases, the communication gap between IT and businesses is as large as ever.”

Cheverton, who returned to South Africa from the UK last year, sees a common need in South Africa, and globally, for businesses and IT to work more closely together. “There has been a lot of hype around emerging technologies that can drive better business results, such as advanced analytics, mobility and commercial-style applications. So businesses may turn to IT to deliver on the promises in the market.

“On the other hand, you may also find that IT departments are keen to embrace technologies they believe will improve their operations, but they are unable to present a strong business case for doing so,” he says.

There are several differences between the UK and South African approaches to IT innovation, notes Cheverton. “In the UK, you tend to find pockets of leadership and the rest will follow. In South Africa, IT tends to be more agile and less influenced by what others are doing. But you will find that, globally, the younger, less senior IT staff will lean towards the latest solutions, while the more senior staff consider IT from a commercial perspective.”

Cheverton notes: “The role of the CIO needs to become a more strategic one, but many still find themselves unable to articulate the business value that IT investments can deliver. This is where the vendor comes in. As a service provider, we find ourselves stepping in to bridge the gap between IT and business. We work with IT to quantify the monetary return on investment possible from IT investments.” This, he says, is of significant importance and value to both IT and businesses.

Until CIOs are fully absorbed into the strategic business mainstream, IT vendors are best placed to serve as the bridge between IT and business, due to their extensive research of the information solutions space and their ability to demonstrate actual returns on investment.

Article first appeared in TechSmart Business, Issue 5 May/June 2014. Available for download here

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