Information Technology: Catalyst or Driver of Business Success?

Unlocking IT’s potential as a strategic partner for driving business growth: Moving beyond the support function mindset.

The use of IT as an enabler can help businesses achieve their goals and streamline processes, but it may also limit IT’s potential to drive innovation and change within the organization. When IT is solely viewed as a support function rather than a strategic partner, it may not be fully utilized to its full potential in driving business growth and success.

people working on an it strategy project


  • Information technology can be either the driver or enabler of business direction.
  • Using IT as a driver can create a competitive edge, innovation, and increase productivity, but may result in becoming too focused on technology and overlooking the company’s core values and mission.
  • Using IT as an enabler can support business goals and create efficiency, but may limit IT’s ability to drive innovation and change, and result in IT being viewed as a support function rather than a strategic partner.


Information technology has been transforming the way businesses operate for decades, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Today, technology is so ubiquitous and essential that it’s hard to imagine any business functioning without it. However, the role of information technology in business strategy and decision-making remains a topic of debate. Some argue that information technology should be the driver of business direction, performance, and activity, while others believe that information technology should instead enable the business direction set by other means. This debate is crucial because it can impact the effectiveness of a company’s operations and its ability to innovate and compete in the market. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of each perspective and provide insights into how businesses can strike the right balance between the two.

Information Technology as a Driver of Business Direction

Some argue that information technology should be the driving force behind business direction, performance and activity. In this view, businesses should use IT to gain a competitive edge, innovate, and stay ahead of the curve.

Advocates of this approach point out that information technology has transformed industries and business models, allowing companies to operate more efficiently, make faster and more informed decisions, and create new products and services that were previously impossible. They argue that IT can unlock new revenue streams, reduce costs, and increase productivity, and that businesses that do not invest in technology risk falling behind their competitors.

There are several examples of companies that have leveraged IT to drive their business direction. Amazon, for instance, built its business model around technology, using data and analytics to personalize recommendations, streamline operations, and offer a seamless customer experience. Netflix, similarly, disrupted the entertainment industry with its technology-driven model, using data to create original content, improve its recommendation algorithm, and expand its global reach.

However, there are also risks and challenges associated with using IT as a driver of business direction. For instance, companies may become too focused on technology and lose sight of their core values and mission. They may also become too reliant on a specific technology or vendor, which can lead to lock-in and reduced flexibility. Furthermore, IT investments can be expensive, and businesses must ensure that they are making strategic and informed decisions about which technologies to adopt and how to integrate them into their operations.

In the end, whether information technology should drive business direction or enable it is not a straightforward question, and the answer may depend on the industry, the business model, and the specific goals and challenges of each organization. It is important for businesses to carefully consider their options, weigh the risks and benefits, and make informed decisions about how to leverage IT to achieve their objectives.

Information Technology as an Enabler of Business Direction

While information technology can be a driving force for business direction, it can also serve as an enabler to achieve goals set by other means. In this model, business leaders first identify the direction in which they want to take the organization, and then determine how information technology can best support those objectives.

This approach is centered around the idea that technology should be viewed as a tool to enable business objectives, rather than as the driving force behind them. By starting with a clear understanding of the desired business outcomes, organizations can identify the technology solutions that will best support those goals. This approach can be particularly effective in industries where technology is rapidly evolving, as it allows organizations to be agile and adaptable to changing conditions.

One of the key benefits of this approach is that it enables organizations to take a more holistic view of their technology investments. Rather than focusing solely on implementing the latest and greatest technology, organizations can evaluate their technology investments based on how well they support the overall business strategy. This can help to ensure that technology investments are aligned with business objectives and can deliver the greatest possible value.

Ultimately, the choice between information technology as a driver or enabler of business direction will depend on a variety of factors, including the specific needs of the organization, the competitive landscape, and the pace of technological change within the industry. By carefully considering these factors and taking a strategic approach to technology investment, organizations can position themselves for success both today and in the future.

Balancing IT as a Driver and Enabler

As we have seen, both driving and enabling roles for IT have their merits and limitations. While a driver role for IT can be beneficial in some situations, such as disruptive innovations or industry-changing technologies, it can also lead to technology-driven decision making that is not aligned with the overall business strategy.

On the other hand, an enabling role for IT can support the achievement of business goals by enabling more efficient processes and improved decision making. However, this approach can also result in IT being viewed as a support function rather than a strategic partner, limiting its ability to drive change and innovation.

Finding the right balance between these two roles is key to maximizing the value of IT in any organization. IT leaders need to work closely with business leaders to identify areas where IT can drive innovation and create competitive advantage, while also ensuring that IT solutions are aligned with business goals and integrated into the overall strategy.

One approach to achieving this balance is to adopt a “business-led, technology-enabled” mindset, where business strategy drives IT investment and direction, while technology is leveraged to enable business goals. This approach can help ensure that IT is viewed as a strategic partner and enabler of business success, rather than a standalone function.

Ultimately, the role of IT in driving or enabling business direction depends on the specific context of each organization. IT leaders and business executives need to work together to assess the organization’s needs and capabilities, and determine the most effective role for IT in achieving business goals. By striking the right balance, organizations can leverage IT to drive innovation and create value, while also ensuring that IT solutions are aligned with business strategy and goals.


In conclusion, the role of information technology in driving or enabling business direction is a complex issue that depends on several factors, including the organization’s industry, strategy, culture, and leadership. While some companies may benefit from IT as a driver of business direction, others may find greater success by using IT as an enabler of their existing strategy. Ultimately, the key is to strike a balance between these two approaches and ensure that IT aligns with and supports the organization’s overall goals and objectives.

At Merillot, we believe that IT can be a powerful tool for driving innovation and transformation, but only when it is used strategically and in alignment with the broader business strategy. Our team of experienced consultants works closely with our clients to assess their IT capabilities, identify opportunities for improvement, and develop customized solutions that align with their specific goals and objectives. Whether you are looking to use IT as a driver or an enabler of your business direction, Merillot can help you achieve your goals and drive your organization forward in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business environment.


Merillot offers a range of consulting interventions to help IT become a strategic partner, including: