Understanding the importance of IT integration

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Staff engagement must be at the heart of business IT investment

A strong IT presence can deliver considerable benefits for businesses of all sizes, but only if these systems are properly centred around the strengths and weaknesses of the workforce.

This is the sentiment of Dr Arosha Bandara, senior lecturer in computing for The Open University, who stated in an interview for Information Age that companies can implement the most cutting-edge systems to amplify productivity and boost engagement, but if members of staff do not have the right skillset then maximising these benefits could be difficult to achieve.

Dr Bandara stated: "When developing professionals to deliver visionary business changes, IT training should be put in a real world context, with students learning by crafting actual fit-for-purpose IT systems that are aligned to the business strategies of the organisation where they work."

This means focusing on the use of new technologies to complement the skills of staff and to make up for deficiencies, with the whole working to deliver a product or service that is the best it can be.

To achieve this, company leaders need to assess not only the IT systems that can deliver benefits to their business, but also the willingness of staff to embrace these changes and to ensure measures are put in place to promote acceptance and bolster engagement.

Individuals must understand not only the opportunities presented through new IT systems, but also the limitations and the change in practices that will need to coincide with the change in the way they operate.

Training must therefore be at the core of technological advancement, ensuring everyone that is expected to utilise a new system is included in the conversation to bring these systems on board - securing employee buy-in from the outset and maximising the benefits that new technologies can provide in the workplace go hand in hand.

"As well as relating to the business, a good holistic understanding of how people work with systems will become increasingly important," Dr Bandara argued.

Members of staff must have a wider understanding of both their role and how what they do on a daily basis fits into the wider business. This, coupled with a clear vision of the ambitions of embracing new technologies in the workplace, will help companies to invest in the right areas to maximise the benefits of IT, as well as driving forward progress and empowering positive change.

"Core technical skills will always be important in the IT team, but an understanding of business together with the ability to evaluate new situations and work collaboratively to develop new solutions, is becoming increasingly important," Dr Bandara concluded.