IT departments can help companies increase their revenue and profits, not just cut costs and make efficiency savings, according to a high performance computing (HPC) expert from Maxeler Technologies.

Maxeler provides consultancy services to companies on how they can restructure their computer systems to drive revenues, and builds bespoke, 'technology-agnostic, application-led systems' based on a HPC platform to achieve the growth.

"IT can be a positive effect on revenue not just to save a few bucks here and there. It's a huge opportunity for IT," said Oskar Mencer, CEO of Maxeler Technologies.

His comments echo those of Roger Bearpark, assistant head of ICT at Hillingdon Council, whose IT team, thanks to virtualisation, spends just 20 percent of its time "keeping the lights on". The rest of the time is spent working "more productively" with the business.

Central to exploiting this profit-making opportunity, Mencer said, was giving application developers more of a say in designing the systems on which their applications run.

"[Application developers] need to be involved. They can't just be given a computer and told 'do it on that'. Give the people who deliver the input and control to what the computer looks like," he said.

Mencer gave examples of how HPC technology can drive revenues in some industries.

In the oil industry, for example, oil companies can use HPC power to run complex scientific algorithms that helps them locate more quickly the reserves that are difficult to find.

Meanwhile in investment banking, companies can use the HPC capabilities to produce almost real-time information on the status of their investments' risks and adjust their position accordingly. In the past, banks would have to rely on analysis of data from the day before.

The prerequisite for IT departments to understand how they can become more innovative to help their organisations make money, has nothing to do with technology though, according to Mencer. "Somebody should sit down and tell IT how the business works and how it makes revenue and how they [IT] can impact the business," he said.