Sunday, November 16, 2014

Bridge the Disconnect between IT and Business

The “disconnect” is the single largest problem in the business-IT world today. 

IT connection with the LOB has been a discussion and need for a long time now. It's no secret that this need is still unfulfilled and requires serious attention. Most IT organizations can barely keep up with their existing workloads to even think about ways to transform themselves. CIOs and IT leaders of today are realizing these needs, but they too are under the age old time, resource, and budget crunch to make integration a priority. Outside of taking advantage of technology to ease the daily IT pressures, what other recommendations would you suggest for CIOs to do to remove the non-core needs so that they and their team can focus on the core--and advance IT beyond the walls of "just IT"?

It takes time, vision, and the willingness drive to change: While companies recognize the need for IT to integrate into the business, it is a task that eludes many organizations. The sustained change will require cultural changes at all levels. Most of all, everyone must be willing to commit. It takes a very concerted and organized effort and a strong desire on both sides to make it happen. Over communication is a key. It also generally starts at the top with senior executives leading the way by setting the goals and strategy and ensuring that they are adhered to through measurement and metrics. Keep the focus on communication. Making sure every move in putting action to non-core and core initiatives is properly communicated to IT and beyond in a systematic way. Communication planning is something that tends to fall at the bottom of the to-do list for CIOs and other IT leaders.

The old chestnut of core and noncore activities has come up: It all starts with the CIO and IT leaders defining what exactly is a "core" IT need. In today's terms, that typically translates to "what can I move to a cloud service?" However, what it should be described in more detail is "how can I ‘cloudify’ non-core tasks in order to focus on the “core?" It is not necessarily about what can be moved off the heavy workload, but rather how you use the cloud to integrate and advance your LOB and IT organizations. Until IT organizations are able to take full advantage of the technologies available to help ease their workloads, they will continue to struggle, and the divide between what the definition of success is for the LOB and IT organizations will simply continue to grow.

Treat emergent technology as a potential business growth engine, not just IT toys: The issue of Big Data comes into this arena as people hear wonderful stories about how data has helped moved and improved the organization, but you should both have passion and cause to manage the pilot project, do you have the strategy and process to get there and why it was done? In the past, some IT departments have done things because it was fun and as IT leaders, you need to see it as a real need that could improve business. 

Do the right things –the substance of being called leadership: Unfortunately, there are too many right things that IT wants to do or have done and technology moves at an incredible pace. Deploying a governance model goes a long way to placing the decision points around the strategy planning and implementation process. It should be a key component from the beginning of any initiative--and it's layered. Knowing what is non-core and core, putting action to organizing initiatives against that, putting plans in place to tackle that organization, and communicating clearly at every stage to all audiences, is critical.

Take multi-phased approaches to building a more transparent IT for customers: What these phases essentially do is to reduce the IT service support because the end users are empowered with the visibility of IT they required. Educate not only the IT organization but also spend considerable time with each LOB to educate them on how to determine if they actually needed to contact the operations group for support. They are able to determine on their own if there are known problems with their IT services plus they are able to see exactly where those problems are. It enables the engineers and operation groups to concentrate on projects that had been stalled due to lack of time and people while also saving a tremendous amount of fund on support calls. 

To bridge such disconnect between business and IT won’t happen overnight, the effective leadership, the delicate balance of core & non-core IT, the integrated business strategy with IT as a key ingredient and the multi-phased approaches are all important to break down the silo thinking and doing and orchestrate a high performing business.


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