The tables are turning: research reveals IT Department is now considered crucial to business growth

A new study from office technology specialist, Altodigital, has revealed the humble IT department could finally be getting the credit it deserves, with business owners placing it as the division second most able to grow their business and bring competitive edge – coming above marketing and production and second only to sales.

The study, which sought views from 750 decision makers at SMEs across the UK, also explored the personality traits business owners expected from an outstanding IT Manager. It was commissioned to help Altodigital better understand the challenges facing its customers when it comes to IT.

It found that nearly half of those questioned (47%) rated their I.T. department as among the most important business functions to drive their business forward, compared to finance (44%), admin (35%) and marketing (39%) coming in second place to sales (48%). Almost a further fifth of those questioned (19%) went as far as proclaiming their IT manager a 'life-saver.'

The research also delved into the personality traits required from a successful IT manager with the top five ideal qualities being revealed as:

  1. Efficiency - the ability to fix a problem as quickly as possible was top priority as firms rely increasingly on IT systems to offer products and services and IT issues need to be ironed out as quickly and painlessly as possible.
  2. Broad knowledgebase - Wide and varied knowledge came in at number two with the ability to educate wider members of the team on new and innovative IT processes being key.
  3. Commitment – Being on hand to support with IT issues and see them through to the end was another important factor.
  4. Approachable/ability to communicate in non tech-speak – it was important for the wider team to feel that could approach the IT department with problems and issues.
  5. Patience – Have the patience to deal with less knowledgeable members of staff and to stick at tricky, persistent issues was another trait to make the top ten.

Though IT is still a male dominated industry, a quarter (25%) of IT managers at the SMEs that Altodigital questioned were female – and it seems gender does make a difference when it comes to the way IT departments work. Male IT co-ordinators have been revealed as being grumpier and more self-important than their female counterparts, while females are revealed as being ruder than the males!

When it comes to the most frequent complaints an IT manager hears, computers crashing (26%), a lack of internet access (20%) and broken printers top the polls – 4% of those questioned even admitted to contacting the IT department for help when they had run out of paper for the printer!

Tony Burnett, Group Sales Director at Altodigital said: "IT is no longer an afterthought it has become one of the most important functions of business. There's been such significant developments in the technology space in the last decade that the majority of businesses have had to move with the times and introduce more technological systems and software to help improve business efficiency.

"This has led to an increased reliance on our I.T managers at all levels, to help support less knowledgeable members of staff with everyday issues and they have become an integral part of the team. The research shows that the stereotypes around people working in technology are being broken down which is great for the diverse and often challenging industry."

And the perfect formula for an IT manager? When it came to a wish list of what people look for in their IT manager, top of the list is a quick response time, followed by wide and varied knowledge and a sprinkle of good communication skills.

Altodigital is one of the largest, independent managed services providers in the UK. Today the company employs more than 450 staff across twelve strategically placed regional centres, with further growth expected in the coming months.

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