Why Can’t Your IT Department Be More Like Apple?

Why can't your IT department have all of the qualities of Apple?
Why can’t your IT department have all of the qualities of Apple?

Image Credit:
Bill Alldredge

As the person with the CIO job, it’s your responsibility to make sure that the company’s IT department understand the importance of information technology and is able to meet the needs of the rest of the company. There are actually several different ways to go about doing this. You can be the “slow and steady” IT department that rolls out new products and services after everyone else in your market has already deployed them or you can be the “first in” who rolls out new services before anyone has ever heard of them. Wouldn’t it be better if your IT department was more like Apple and just got it right each and every time?

How Does Apple Do It?

A lot of people don’t quite realize what has made Apple the very successful organization that it is today. What Apple does better than anyone else is to perfect the work that others have already done. The reason that this is such a big deal today is because Apple has grown into a very large firm and now has the scale to do great things.

We need to keep in mind that although Apple has been successful in the past, they don’t have a magic wand. They recently had their first quarterly sales decline in 13 years. This has caused a number of people to wonder if Apple has lost its magic – can it start to grow again? Apple has no shortage of cash and so if they put their mind to something, then they can make it happen.

Most of us think that if Apple has gotten itself into a bind, then it should once again create a revolutionary new product line or show us something that nobody has done before. We want Apple to show us innovation. The problem with this idea is that it goes against what Apple’s true strengths are. Apple really has two key strengths: a huge, sprawling ecosystem of users (over 1 Billion active devices) and the spending power of its users.

How Can Your IT Department Be More Like Apple?

If you want your IT department to be more like Apple, then you need to understand what Apple does. Apple offers its customers a more accessible and a more polished version of what other firms have been offering for years. An example of this would be the Apple watch product. Other firms had already been offering watches, Apple just made one that did things better.

One of the things that every CIO needs to keep in mind is that strengths can also be weaknesses. In the case of Apple, one of their strengths is the iPhone ecosystem that they have created. However, if something were to come along and disrupt the smartphone market this could cause a challenge for Apple. We have seen this happen at other companies such as Microsoft who was caught unaware when first the internet and then smartphones changed the way that we interact with computers.

Where the person in the CIO positon can learn from Apple is to understand how they have become so successful. What they do is allow another company to begin the process of exploring a new market. Once this has been done, Apple is then free to fly in and unveil both a solution and a set of conventions that allow it to capture most of the available market.

What All Of This Means For You

As a CIO, you’d like your IT department to show the rest of the company how innovative it is. You’d like to be known for delivering solutions that just work right. One of the best examples of companies that have been doing this very thing for quite some time is Apple.

Apple is not really an innovator. Instead, what they tend to do is to perfect the work that others have already done. Apple has two core strengths that it can bring to the table: a very large ecosystem of products that have already been deployed and customers who are willing to pay more for their products. Although Apple has encountered a period of slowing growth, they probably don’t want to innovate their way out of this one. Instead, they should do what they do best: find a market that someone else has already developed and then create a better product for it.

As your company’s CIO, you need to take a look at what other CIOs are doing for their firms. Then, just like Apple, you need to do a better job of what they have done for your company. Your company will be amazed and pleased at what you and your IT department are able to deliver to them. I can’t say that you’ll be as successful as Apple, but you should be able to get pretty close…

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: What’s the best way to determine where your IT department should be spending their time in order to deliver the best results for the rest of the firm?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As CIOs, every day is busy. We’ve got a lot of different things going on that have to do with the importance of information technology and it can be very challenging to try to get everything done. That’s why when it comes to hackers, we are aware of the problem but we may not be currently doing anything about it. The thinking goes that if we run into a problem with hackers, we’ll then free up some time and take care of things then. Perhaps this is not the best overall plan. For you see, the hackers are out there and they may have already found a way into your firm. The time to deal with them is now. Are you ready?