Re: It's even simpler than that.
quote: "IT was developed as an outgrowth of the Accounting department. It's purpose was, and is, to support the company in doing business. Nothing more, nothing less."
Absolutely, initially the main use for IT was to help automate tedious fiscal tasks, and most IT managers initially were finance managers. Unfortunately that was 20-30 years ago, and "IT" now have to deliver and support systems for the entire company, not just Finance.
quote: "The IT guys need to remember why they are there, who signs their paychecks, and who pays for all the neat toys they get to play with."
Why we are here: the other departments need us to support and maintain their automation software (be it Sales/Marketing database, Order Management software, Logistics software, HR database, company email server(s), company file server(s) etc.)
Who signs our paycheques: Payroll. They sign everyone else's too, it's their job. :)
Who pays for our toys: a combination of the efforts of Sales, Marketing, Operations, Fulfillment/Logistics, and Finance, delivered to the company coffers, then sorted into budgets.
We (IT) certainly need to remember that we act as part of a cohesive whole, a gestalt entity. IT are not the only department to have issues remembering this though; Finance have a tendency to believe they are the centre of the company, as do Sales and Marketing. The point I usually hear made to emphasise the viewpoint is "without us, there would be no company" and I agree wholeheartedly with the statement. Without Sales (or Marketing), we get no money and the company tanks. Without Finance, we cannot usefully process or collect the money owed, and the company tanks. Without Logistics, we cannot deliver the goods and the company tanks.
Now consider your IT department turning off all the servers (and the phones, we always end up getting the telecoms as well) and leaving the building. Sales, Marketing, Logistics, Finance and pretty much everyone else in the company would immediately find they could not usefully perform their job role anymore, as everyone has got used to the level of automation that IT has enabled. We are equally as important as the other departments for the successful running of the company, and what we do these days impacts the entire organisation.
We're not just there to delete the viruses you get from browsing porn sites at home (on company kit), or to ensure you get a new iPhone and iPad every time Apple release a new one. We are as critical to the running of the company as any other department. Not more so, as some I've met in the industry believe. Just as critical.
It's just that investment in IT doesn't have as an immediate effect on the bottom line as more marketing spend, and so tends to get deprioritised except when looking to upgrade to the latest shiny (for this I'm including "new Oracle ERP suite that Finance wants" alongside "new iPad that the CEO wants", shiny can be related to automation software as well). This generally means IT start getting jealous of the budgets of other departments, spent on frivolous things like "advertising" and "product development", when we are positive that it would be better spent on a proper data centre upgrade that would result in less downtime and more capabilities for the end users. The board knows that all those things are essential to grow market share, but IT doesn't; we are now comprised of employees who've never worked for another department, and therefore don't properly understand the business end to end.
tl;dr - In my experience, insular thinking can happen in any department; it's not just us geeks that think we're the most important part of the company. For harmonious working conditions, everyone needs to remember that everyone's job is important in keeping the company running ;)