An Opportunity for IT

IT has a chance to prove its business value.

Whether your company is large or small, public or private, sooner or later the regulatory train is going to rumble down the track in your corporate neighborhood. When it does, it may bring the perfect opportunity for you as an IT professional to restore credibility in IT as a contributor of business value.

First, lets hope enough IT folks have been loyal to their organizations and remain to do the work—and have not left to change careers or moved to another country to practice their skills. Second, we can only hope that they have listened to the years of endless exhortations to become more business-savvy.

Im optimistic that those who have stayed faithful to IT can rally again for corporate America. IT people have an essential personality trait for handling the myriad details encompassed by government compliance and regulation: discipline.

OK, laugh, but it takes a lot more discipline to comply than meets the eye, and IT has a great history of being disciplined in executing according to specifications. Regulation often is achieved through numerous control mechanisms, and IT has plenty of hands-on experience with these.

IT should drive the compliance train. Dont wait to be asked; jump aboard and offer what youve got: a valuable combination of business knowledge and technical experience. Who else really knows the operational details of accounting, sales and other auditing systems?

Without the intimate knowledge that comes from building and maintaining these systems, its hard to modify them to meet regulatory requirements. A company would be foolish to look to most outsourced solutions for this; its just too costly to suffer delays and make mistakes.

The new compliance systems that must be built should provide you and your staff with many occasions to demonstrate the value of your work. Even though the regulation mandate may not yield direct revenue to the bottom line, some of the new tools and techniques that are being used may bring about tangential opportunities for revenue. Look for them.

Its extremely important for IT pros to participate in the strategies of compliance and not just the solutions because the new regulations affect different companies and different industries in different ways.

Furthermore, the choices in compliance methods must be balanced against the effort, expense and time available to implement them. Without knowing the underlying systems, it may be difficult or impossible to assess the options your company faces.

Complying with new regulations meant to curb excesses in your industry may be a chore you did not ask for, but its also a chance to prove the business value of IT and quiet the unknowledgeable critics of our industry. Dont let this opportunity pass.

Paul C. Tinnirello is a CIO in the financial services industry. Free Spectrum is a forum for the IT community. Send submissions to