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Today’s top 5 IT department challenges (and opportunities)

by David Strom
IT departments have a lot of headaches, and, due to the nature of their business, the reasons for these headaches are often changing.

Between the new data security landscape, the demands placed upon IT departments by higher-ups, and the always-changing needs of businesses, IT today can be a very dynamic and challenging place. Last year’s priorities aren’t always valid today. So what IT department challenges are facing IT managers and decision-makers right now? Here are five things to keep in mind:

​Between the new data security landscape and the always-changing needs of businesses, IT today can be a very dynamic and challenging place. Last year’s priorities aren’t always valid today.

1. Finding IT talent

Many IT managers are constantly trying to find and hire IT talent, such as skilled data scientists and application program interface developers. Talent is still a big stumbling block, and some companies are looking at non-traditional hiring methods, such as employing online and on-demand classes. These classes, while an investment, can help train the right people with the right kinds of skills, to allow them to advance their careers and become more valuable to the corporation. Other hiring efforts like Launchcode are trying to more easily connect job seekers with hiring managers to fill entry-level positions quicker.

2. Balancing strategic priorities with regulatory requirements

New data retention and security regulations are often at odds with existing regulations enacted in other countries, making it vexing to design systems and data and security policies for businesses that operate globally. As we wrote about with the implementation of Obamacare, better electronic records management, a closer eye on who uses personal data, and better document management are all key to staying on the right side of regulators.

3. Transforming big data into big insights, big vision and big opportunities

Of all the potential IT department challenges, Big Data is one that is equal parts daunting and opportunistic. IT managers need to evaluate how big data can play into their business strategies, and not just be enamored by the trendy tech du jour. They need to closely examine what business problems can be solved by Big Data techniques, and how they can best use data that they already have collected.

Big Data can help you provide better customer service, and allows you to learn more about your employees to help make them more productive. To help accomplish this, look closely at how you can build the right mathematical models and choose the right data visualization tools to best make use of your existing data repositories.

4. Future-proofing IT architecture

It wasn’t all that long ago that the cloud and mobile technology were just distant dreams. Now they are the reality of IT. Business needs are changing, and the tools needed to accomplish strategic goals are as well. Businesses need to keep pace.

“There are so many interesting technologies out there, and there’s so little time to implement them fast enough,” said Dieter Haban, CIO at Daimler Trucks North America.

Look closely at your IT architecture and make sure that it is able to withstand these changes, and that it is flexible enough for things like running on tablets or from remote locations.

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5. Supporting the end user

The days when IT took months to develop requirements seem so quaint now. IT departments are no longer in the integration business. Instead, they have to start developing more with less—and quickly, too. Just look at the pace of software updates from companies like Facebook or Google. IT needs to adopt this pace in supporting its own business-related technologies. For a creative approach to this challenge, consider creating a corporate app store to deploy your latest tools, making it easier for your users to self-service without waiting for IT to “open a support ticket.”
David Strom
David Strom is one of the leading experts on network and Internet technologies and has written and spoken extensively on topics such as VOIP, convergence, email, cloud computing, network management, Internet applications, wireless and Web services for more than 25 years. His work has appeared in ITworld.com, TechTarget.com, Internet.com, Network World, Infoworld, PC Week, Computerworld, Small Business Computing, c|net and news.com, eWeek, Baseline Magazine, PC World, and PC Magazine.