IT: The driving force behind business innovation

With technology at the core of business, those with the ability to master it and in turn connect the workforce have the power to spark change 

Google for Work and Raconteur’s study of workplace innovation revealed that whilst collaboration has been identified as the key to business success, 26 per cent of respondents saw IT as the main driver of innovation. At 17 per cent, Marketing was considered the second biggest driver of change.

So why are expectations of IT departments so high across the board? The answer lies in the close relationships that IT has forged with every part of a business. Not only does IT drive innovation but it also improves an organization’s ability to collaborate. If that wasn’t enough responsibility to carry on its shoulders, IT is also the department that has the strongest ability to master new technology quickly, and often it is the newer technologies on the market that can be most transformational.

The most successful companies will be those that adopt collaborative and innovative practices across the board

Efficient, forward-thinking IT departments have the unique capacity of understanding business needs on all levels and can often take a pro-active role in suggesting solutions. As survey respondents considered IT to be the department that is the most accomplished at collaborating with other departments, their potential consultative role should become an important priority for businesses. Indeed, 20% of respondents cited planning and decision-making as the process that would derive the greatest benefit from increased collaboration.

Google_Graphics_FINALS_RGB-17

The spotlight on IT departments doesn’t mean that other parts of the business are off the hook when it comes to stepping up to the plate where collaboration and innovation are concerned. The most successful companies will be those that adopt collaborative and innovative practices across the board.

Google_Graphics_FINALS_RGB-16

Case Study:  IT leadership with Thrillist Media Group

Ben Darr, Thrillist Media Group
Ben Darr, Thrillist Media Group

The IT department at Thrillist Media Group (TMG) has been integral to a five-year journey that has seen the company expand from a 30-person organization housed in a one-room office, to a 300-employee content and e-commerce business with three locations and revenues of $100M.

Manager of Product Development, Ben Darr, says that while staff still use Gmail “for a lot of things”, other tools such as Hangouts provide the ability to quickly and easily collaborate with IT (and other departments) on a day-to-day basis. It’s a way of working that provides “the immediacy that the creative process really demands”. He explains: “Sometimes I’ll get a question in a Hangout meeting, ping a developer and before the person is done asking the question I’ll have the answer for them. You just can’t replace the spark and productivity in these meetings with an email chain.”

On top of that, TMG also called on its director of front-end web development, Ken Peltzer, to use Google APIs to develop a new purpose-built app that shows the availability of meeting rooms in real time. Darr says Peltzer’s solution has helped all the company’s departments to overcome the age-old problem of finding a free meeting room, and has “wiped out” long, time-consuming email chains. Darr adds: “Needless to say, he’s become the most popular person in the office.”

About the survey

This study of 258 North American business and IT leaders, produced by Raconteur and Google for Work, was conducted in Q1 2015.

Respondents were asked to complete an anonymous online survey about their beliefs and predictions around innovation and collaboration in the workplace. The individuals that responded to this survey represented a broad spectrum of industries in terms of both their size and main areas of activity.

About Google for Work

Also found in Technology IT Innovation