Monday, June 17, 2013

Is Business & IT Gap ‘Artificial’

A multitude of leadership skillset can bridge the gap.

 The “gap” between business and IT is always a hot debate, and the conclusion is also controversial, some say, the gap is definitely shrinking, as IT is gradually becoming engrained into every aspect of business these days due to internet, technology developments etc. The clear cut divide that used to be there between IT and business in the olden days is vanishing fast; the opposite opinion is that indeed the gap is deepened  because the “shadow IT”-business bypassing IT oversight to order SAAS service on their own, causes serious governance issue and communication gaps.

So besides process and technology made “nature” gap, from leadership and talent perspective, is business & IT gap also “artificial”? Or, to put the other way, IT awareness for business users Vs. Business awareness for IT gurus - Which is more important? How much IT knowledge Business users should have? Is it as important for the business to have IT Knowledge as it is for IT to have business domain expertise? Should there be an intermediary role? If that is the case what should be the profile?

Senior leadership team needs to keep on the same page: C-level executives, including the CIO, must be primarily focused on identifying and meeting business goals and objectives. However, they each have different ways of performing in their role. If business leaders aren't IT literate, how will they be able to effectively weave IT to improve/innovate? They know their business best. On the flip side, if IT leaders aren't business savvy, how will they possibly select and implement the right technology to support & align with business goals?       

The division between the two "schools" is artificial; is this job of the CIO to break down that barrier? The role of the CIO and other IT leaders is to effectively apply technology solutions to meet the operational/line of business and regulatory needs of the organization and act as the bridge between the bits and bytes of technology and the mission and objectives of the business, support the efforts of other leaders to manage and grow the business itself. Could or should CIOs play the intermediary role? It sounds very logical and obvious, but a CIO does lot more than that. CIOs architect the IT organization for the company, strategize and spends most of the time in designing a roadmap.
A multitude of leadership skill set can bridge the gap: In reality, the business needs to understand what information they need to deliver on the core business objectives. The CIO must understand what these core objectives are and how they are manifested within that specific company/business and how they, in turn, drive the business within its competitive market. They need many skills to be able to shape, influence and guide the business leadership at several levels to enable the right thing to be done, and the thing to be done right.
Focus on business problems, not just the “shining” technologies: The C-Level executives should be more concerned about how Information Technology can serve the needs of the business by enhancing business process and solving business problems. The danger with C-level executives having too much IT knowledge is that they wrongly and too quickly begin to define how to solve a business problem using technology and treat the business project as a technology challenge, rather than focusing on defining what the problem is.  
Speak common business language: More critically, IT leaders need to learn executive language and drivers and drop any hint of technical terms. they should be aiming to shape the thing of information within the executive to allow the executive to include an information strategy as core element of the business strategy and tactical plan - and must do this from the angle of C- level executive concerned about the core business drivers first and not the tools and trappings of its management.
Talent at every level needs to have appropriate understand upon IT to bridge the gap: Moving down the talent chain; Divisional / Functional managers really ought to have a good understanding of IT, but equally IT delivery managers ought to have a good business understanding of the functions they service, as they are essentially integral to the departments they service.While the everyday employee commonly doesn't need to have an in-depth understanding of IT, however, they need to know how to use technology tools fluently to do their job.
The “artificial gap” between business and IT can be bridged when knowledge workers from top-down improve productivity, through continuous innovation, quality over quantity, continuous learning, and improvement.


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