The role of IT in organizations is changing – and that’s a good thing. Most organizations are moving away from in-house servers migrating to online applications and hosted services. Associations and charitable organizations are using an array of third-party applications such as private communities, email marketing and marketing automation, elearning / learning management functions, fundraising, advocacy and event management. Some or all of these are integrated with the organization’s association management or donor management systems. Lehman Reports studies have documented that the resulting technology complexity represents a challenge for both the IT function and end users in the organization.
In this context, the role of IT shifts from being the operator of technology to the manager of external service providers and applications to provide an effective and integrated technology ecosystem. This is a higher level function and one that requires a combination of strong technical knowledge and management skills.
Beyond the management of the technology ecosystem, IT plays an increasingly important role as the focal point of knowledge and expertise to help staff gain maximum benefits for the organization from its investment in technology. This is not just training and support on “how” to use an application, though that is certainly a part. Rather it is IT working with departments and staff to understand goals and challenges, and then help them apply technology to address them. This brings IT out of the administrative support closet and into the mainstream of the organization, focusing on mission, long terms goals, and effective programs and services. Interactions shift from fixing technical problems to helping professional staff understand and leverage technology resources to be more successful.
IT staff should welcome these changes as offering greater opportunities and a more visible role in the success of the organization. To be successful in these new roles, however, many will need to be proactive to increase their management and communications skills.