When you head up an IT department, most of your days are spent reacting to and trying to solve the issues and problems that arise on a daily basis. However, when the unicorn of a moment’s free time lands on your desk, there are a few strategic questions that every CIO should be asking.

#1: Is our IT department helping our business solve its major challenges?

This is actually a two-part question, the first is, “What are our business’s major challenges?” And the second should be, “What is our team doing to help solve them.” The answers to these questions will allow a CEO or CIO to determine the true competitive advantage the IT function creates for the business. If the answer suggests IT isn’t helping differentiate the company from competition, but rather is focused only on the back office, that is a red flag for leadership. It is the perfect opportunity to discover areas where IT could help drive innovation and new business by better serving customers. Which leads us to our next question…

#2: Is our IT department helping to support and drive innovation within our company?

What innovations are your department currently working on that will help the business communicate better with customers? What is your team developing that will help deliver products to your customers with a higher level of customer satisfaction? These are the types of questions that should be driving the projects your team is working on. Besides uptime and reliability, one of the returns IT can bring to an organization is innovation; whether it be through research and development or improving processes and efficiency, the leadership team should be confident IT is doing more than maintaining the network and infrastructure but also helping the company progress.

#3: What are we doing to help control risk for the company?

With information and data networking moving to the cloud, the openness of the Internet, and the surge in hacking — it is only fitting that you should be able to answer the question, “How is our team controlling risk?”  Your leadership team should be well aware of what IT is doing to protect the properties of the corporation. As the head of the department you should be able to answer what your team is doing to protect the physical and intellectual assets. You have a responsibility to the board, and, if the company is public, the shareholders, to explain the what, why, and how of your security plan.

#4: Are we managing budgets effectively? 

Projects and CapEx budgets in IT are expensive to operate. You have to maintain a working understanding of the costs and benefits these operations and projects are producing for the organization. As the head of your department you need to manage, or leverage partners, to help manage contracts and assist in making cost conscious decisions.

#5: Does the strategy of our IT department align with our corporate strategy?

Depending on where your corporation’s strategy falls, you need to make sure that your team is in alignment with it. Is your corporation in cost savings mode? Then you should be asking how are you cutting costs and improving the budget. Is the corporation’s focus on greater customer satisfaction? What changes is your team implementing that will help solidify those goals? Does innovation and new technology bring in new customers and increase overall customer loyalty? What will your team do in 2017 to help realize these new technologies in an ever changing environment?

With the competitive nature of Information Technology and how heavily reliant all businesses are on new technologies to bring in customers, build customer loyalty, protect the business and lower the bottom line, it is imperative for the IT department to be cognizant of the ever changing and the adaptive role it plays in the success of the overall business. Having the answers to questions like these will not only help the IT department survive in today’s environment, but go from a cost center to a revenue agent.

With over 17 years of Information Technology industry experience and an extensive background in Telecommunications, Mike Belmont is part of the Renodis Management Team and acts as Senior Enterprise Leader. As a seasoned professional with enterprise level corporations in telecommunications, Mike has extensive experience in senior sales, management, and indirect channel roles with Quest, Sprint, UCN, and for the last 11 years with Renodis. Mike has managed both fortune 1000 accounts as well as VAR partners.

For more information or if you have any comments or questions related to this post, please contact him at

It’s not enough for today’s CIOs to oversee IT and IT alone – they need to network throughout the company, looking for ways to make IT a business function, not an afterthought. In fact, America’s most admired and successful companies are crushing their competitors by leveraging technology as a competitive differentiator rather than merely as […]

Communications (historically referred to as telecommunications) is a term that has taken a new spin as it now refers to converged voice and data networks as well as mobility. For IT leaders, it is a layer of IT that is critical to the business, much like keeping the lights on, but very difficult and time consuming to manage. Not to mention, expensive.

Many IT leaders are using a managed services approach for different areas of IT. Strategic IT leaders use third party providers for various commodity-based work including help desk support, collocation/hosting, data center, and network support. Communications is another area of IT that is considered commodity-based. Why should you use a managed services approach to communications? Here are three strategic reasons why.

Strategic Reason #1: Don’t be an empire builder!

Yes, you need internal resources to manage certain aspects of IT. But building an IT team to focus on commodity based, tactical areas of the business is a waste of talent and money. Many leaders redeploy highly skilled network staff on critical competencies (engaging with business leaders, learning about solving business challenges, business architecture, security, and customers).

Managed services for communications eliminates the need to use highly skilled and expensive staff to manage a tactical layer of IT. And the best managed service firms leverage built-for-purpose systems to manage their cost of services, systems that a normal IT shop can’t hope to fund. That means those firms can run your environment with a solid ROI back to you.

Strategic Reason #2: Managing communications is not strategic

Communications is a necessary aspect of your business, critical to daily function. However, the daily management of voice networks, data networks, and mobility is not a core part of your business. Do you really want highly skilled network engineers and administrators negotiating with carriers, handling repair issues and network outages, managing vendor relationships, handling basic Move / Add / Change / Disconnect work, procuring voice and data network services, taking mobility repair calls, and looking at invoices every month? The answer should be NO.

Strategic Reason #3: So many other great things to focus on…cloud, security, app dev

The truth is — IT organizations are ridiculously busy and have far too many important initiatives to focus on. Today’s top CIOs focus on identifying how enterprise technology can enhance the business from a strategic perspective. Technology brings exciting changes to the IT world. The emergence of cloud, IoT, mobility, applications, and security challenges far outweigh managing tactical and commodity based work like communications.

By working with business leaders and customers to identify their challenges and provide technology solutions, CIOs are now taking an active part in moving their business forward – often in ways they have never have been able to do before!

Ryan Carter specializes in working with thought-leading, strategically-targeted IT executives to help them achieve an increased focus on business-impacting technology, business transformation, reduced operating costs, and IT productivity. Ryan provides thought leadership and various areas of expertise for Communications Managed Services including telecommunications expense management, mobility managed services, technology road-mapping, network design, business continuity, vendor management, and user support.

For more information on driving IT performance and improving business outcomes, or if you have any comments or questions related to this post, please contact him at