Martin Francis

ISP Task 4 week 2

Business/ICT relationships and gaps

Different organisations have different relationships with ICT depending:

  • The strategic business importance of IT,
  • The impact of internal politics,
  • Scale and maturity of business,
  • Legacy systems
  • Attitude to having functions “In-House” vs Outsourced
  • Policy preference towards employing contractors vs fulltime staff

Impact of different Internal Politics

Different organisations have different cultures and different dominant personalities on The Board. Internal politics impacts the priority given to resources and budget allocated to ICT projects

For example when the Managing Director is an accountant, they will have a different view of IT compared to a company where the Managing Director is an engineer. Accountants will tend to push for a “matching” principle which means spending as little as possible on IT now and scale as the business grows. In contrast engineers will often argue that it is more cost effective to buy larger capacity systems from the beginning.

The Strategic Importance of IT to a particular organisation

How much power the IT Director has will often be determined by the underlying business need. For example at Facebook the IT Director will be king, while at a chain of restaurants eg. Bristol based chain Las Iguanas, IT will be an afterthought so long as their tills are working.

Age and Size Matters

Size and maturity of the organisation is another key factor affecting the relationship a company has with its ICT. For many small businesses the key ICT requirement will be a reliable broadband connection and access to the internet for such things as email, researching the competition, researching customers and suppliers and checking web analytics. This reliance will increase as more business applications rely on cloud computing.
For example increasing numbers of key business tools & applications including accountancy software and Google Adwords are hosted in the cloud.

ICT and Legacy Systems

Companies often have the added challenge of dealing with the legacy ICT systems and architecture they have in place. Often this means a different solution will have to be implemented rather than if starting from scratch, often referred to as a green field solution.

orange logo For example:–
Orange grew rapidly as the number of customers increase from 3 million to 10 million during 2000 and 2001 when the “There’s no ouch in our voucher” marketing campaign worked really effectively. The IT systems e.g. customer service systems and billing had to be scaled up rapidly with boxes bolted together to cope with the increased business demand. This resulted in a complex spaghetti of boxes and systems. If the system been designed with 10 million customers in mind from the start then the architecture would have looked very different.(Morris, 2010)

In House Vs Outsource

Some companies will see ICT as a non–core activity and outsource.
For example Lucidia is a London based IT consulting company that specialises in offering SMEs IT on an outsourced bases. Larger companies like mobile phone company 3 outsource their IT helpdesk to India. (Sutton, 2006) In contrast another company in the same industry, Orange, outsource their IT support but the staff from the outsourced company physically sit within Orange offices so that they can offer a better service.

Whether to outsource or not will be driven by a range of strategic business factors including cost, whether IT is viewed as core and strategic to the business versus a support function, internal politics and whether there is and organisational preference to outsourcing in general.

Use of Contractors

Finally there are organisational gaps regarding ICT due to different organisations having different Human Resource policies and preferences regarding the use of contractors. For example some organisations prefer to employ IT staff on a full time basis, for greater continuity, while others are happy to employee specialised IT contractors on a project basis and other organisations will use a mix. This policy could impact how integrated IT is with the rest of the organisation and how effectively an organisation can leverage its ICT for optimal business results.

Ultimate Outsourcing – Let the Customer do the work

Cutting staff and reducing costs by giving over responsibilities to the customer.
Two examples are:–

  • Online booking for tickets, gigs, theatre, buses and trains etc.
  • Self Scanning at the supermarket

This is something I suspect that other companies in a bid to cut costs will be trying to do in the future.


The importance of ICT within organisations is affected by who is at the helm and what sort of business they are in.
Occupying that space between the organisation and it‘s IT is going to be easier in an organisation that places a higher importance on it.
Where an organisation places a lesser importance on ICT, either because it is not their business or because of who is in charge, the IS practitioner will have to be better at the “soft skills” and may find that his/her role is more of an educator or trainer than someone is just recommending software and hardware. Especially where he/she can see the benefit of better ICT, when the organisation can”t.


Carolyn Morris, Strategy Manager,1999 to 2006 at Orange.
Andrew Sutton, Telecoms Engineer,2003 to 2006 at 3 Mobile.