Budgets are always a source of much conversation.
I remember years ago (what some CIOs refer to as the "good old days") when the size of your budget and your staff were considered yardsticks to measure your importance. Today, I could argue to some degree that the opposite is true. Success is measured more by effectiveness and efficiency.
The lower you can keep operational costs and headcount, the more you have available to fund the mission of the organization. It also means that you have more dollars available to fuel the innovation engine and experiment with new tools that can potentially be game-changers for your organization.
Whenever I present to my board of directors, I always review the financial state of the union. However, I always portray this in terms of investments, not costs. I am quick to share with them the value that the investments we've made in IT have had on both driving top-line revenue as well as lowering bottom-line costs. Ultimately, the issue isn't only how much you are investing in technology, but what are you investing in, and what return you are gleaning on that investment.
I am also always quick to point out to my board that we are investing approximately 50 percent of what is the norm for our industry vertical while getting excellent results for that investment. Putting things in context is a powerful tool in explaining and supporting your investment in technology.
I try very hard to find ways to lower the ongoing costs of providing operational services. We have been early adopters of Software as a Service (SaaS), public cloud computing and other innovative technologies. Necessity is the mother of invention. Being a not-for-profit organization, we often have to find innovative ways to get things done while keeping costs under control.
The money we save on IT operations is often invested into new technologies, such as mobile applications, business intelligence, and working to start to get our arms around big-data. These are the areas where we can leverage technology to drive business value.
Every dollar we save on IT operations is a dollar we can invest in putting racquets in kids' hands and working to build new stadiums to support the US Open. You see, we never forget that our mission is not technology. Our mission is growing tennis participation in the United States and ensuring that our fans have a world-class entertainment experience at our tournaments. And your mission, regardless of your industry, is also to serve your business function.
Ultimately, IT investment is no different from any other investment. It is an important part of the cost of doing business and needs to show a return that helps the organization accomplish its mission. Is this how you view your IT budget? What are you investing in? How do your stakeholders feel about how much and where you are spending the company's money?