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Strategic IT: Best Practices for Managers and Executives by Lyle Yorks, Arthur M. Langer

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Chapter 2

IT Drivers and Supporters

This chapter provides a perspective of why technology has a unique effect on corporate performance. Specifically, if we look at information technology (IT) from a layperson's point of view, we might better understand how to make technology a more integral part of strategic and competitive advantage. More important is to provide a template for how organizations respond to the generic catalysts for change brought on by technological innovations. Furthermore, how do we objectively view the role of technology in this context, and how should organizations adjust to its short- and long-term impacts?

Drivers and Supporters

According to Langer, there are essentially two types of generic functions performed by departments in organizations: driver functions and supporter functions.1 These functions relate to the essential behavior and nature of what a department contributes to the goals of the organization.

Drivers are defined as those units that engage in direct revenue or front-line generating activities. Supporters are units that do not generate obvious direct revenues but rather are focused on the support of front-line activities. Examples of support functions are operations such as internal accounting, purchasing, or office management. Support departments, due to their very nature, are evaluated on their effectiveness and efficiency or economies of scale. In contrast, driver organizations are expected to generate direct or indirect revenues for the ...

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