CERN data center in Meyrin, Switzerland, 2017 Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
CERN data center in Meyrin, Switzerland, 2017

Lenovo’s Stevenson: Business Should Expect More from IT

IT is in the ideal position to help meet strategic business goals; business leaders often don’t realize that.

In a recent Q&A with Data Center Knowledge, Kim Stevenson, senior VP and general manager of Solutions Segments for Lenovo’s Data Center Group, said the enterprise IT department of today should do more than simply making sure all the company’s IT systems work as expected. It should also help the business drive innovation.

During the Wednesday keynote at Data Center World in San Antonio, Texas, Stevenson explained what that would mean in practice.

It starts with setting higher expectations not only with the team itself but with the business leaders, who often don’t expect IT to do more than day-to-day tools and infrastructure maintenance, she said. Telling the non-tech leaders that they should expect IT to help deliver on important strategic business goals is the first step.

“It’s a really important concept that business will grab on to,” Stevenson said.

She’s been on both sides of that line. Prior to joining Lenovo, Stevenson spent six months as COO of Intel’s IoT and Systems Architecture Group and four years as the chipmaker’s CIO before that.

The reason IT is perfectly positioned to help enable important business initiatives is it sees execution of all business processes, be they operations, telecommunications, marketing, transactions, and so on. “No other function in the company has that level of visibility,” she said.

Stevenson recommended that IT leaders focus on helping deliver on three business priorities:

  • Redefine customer experience
  • Implement extreme productivity
  • Develop new products and services

Part of that is becoming a “translation engine.” The IT leader has to translate strategic direction into concrete actions the IT team can take to pursue it.

That means they must have broader perspective on the business. They have to be aware of things like market trends, the company’s competitors, and its shareholders, Stevenson explained.

And that often means leaving some knowledge behind. It’s difficult for an IT professional to gain that broad perspective as they move up the organization without giving up some technical day-to-day skills they’ve acquired.

Stevenson said she used to be able to write code, for example, but now that she’s spent years focusing on strategic elements of business, her coding skills may not be as good as before.

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