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4 types of information technology cultures explained


IT culture defined, the 4 cultures explained

An information technology culture is a company’s attitude toward investing in technology and business technology as a strategic business differentiator. In this regard, IT culture typically falls into four basic categories: conservative, moderate, aggressive and leading edge/bleeding edge.

1. Conservative IT cultures

In a conservative IT culture, top leaders see technology as an expense to minimize. In turn, they have IT departments maximize the use of the technology they have, getting the utmost value out of technology investments.

These types of companies move off operating systems only when vendors no longer support those systems and IT cannot create workable internal fixes to keep those systems going. Organizations with conservative IT cultures have employees use laptops and desktops for six to 10 years and only replace those when they break. Conservative companies do not see technology as something to provide a competitive advantage, but something whose cost they want to reduce.

2. Moderate IT cultures

Organizations with moderate IT cultures prioritize cost management but will occasionally invest in new technology. However, when they do, it is with an eye toward cost containment over seeking strategic advantage.

For example, companies with moderate cultures will invest in automation if it directly reduces costs. If there is an ROI in less than a year, they may make the investment.

3. Aggressive IT cultures

Aggressive IT cultures categorize technology spending as key to moving the company forward. Business and IT leaders actively look for technology to give them an advantage over competitors. They see how spending in one domain can reduce costs in another.

For example, they believe adding automation frees people from doing low-value work so they can focus on high-value work. Although open to developing technologies, leaders in these organizations won’t procure such technology based on hype or exploration. Instead, leaders will investigate technology that delivers a business advantage.

4. Leading-edge or bleeding-edge IT cultures

Leading-edge or bleeding-edge IT cultures always see technology spend as an investment. Business and IT leaders in these cultures see technology as a business driver, essential to establishing and maintaining market leadership. They are less worried about process and cost, knowing they will figure out how to get more efficient over time.

This does not mean investing in technology for the sake of investment. Instead, leaders see investment in technology as a driver for creating a new market, adding a unique competitive differentiation, and facilitating transformation of people, processes and products. Technology for technology’s sake rarely yields fundamental business change. Rather, the desire for business change uses technology as a channel to allow this change to occur. In this way, leading-edge companies will necessarily align with business, as a transformation change agent.


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