Wednesday, November 12, 2014

IT as a Proactive Business Decision Maker

IT plays a pivotal role in bridging industrial age and digital era.

More often than not, technology is the creative destructor for business regardless of which sectors you are in, and IT becomes the key ingredient in any competitive business capability, either it’s the utility necessity for the company's survival or the unique competency for the organization’s thriving; and the success of IT project can leapfrog a business to the uprising business star; while the failed IT project will directly impact the business’s bottom line, even surviving. Hence, IT leaders, essentially are business leaders as well, have to have a seat at the big table and make key business decisions more proactively.

IT should have a seat at the table - some of the most successful companies have leveraged IT as a key differentiator in their quest for business excellence. However, in most of the organizations, IT is seldom brought to the table as a business partner. Part of that is IT own fault, as a lot of IT managers do not even understand what the business does. However, the business's own culture is also to blame, as they see IT as a group "to keep the lights on" and not as critical decision-making asset in today’s rapidly changing technology world. More business sectors bring IT to the table as business partners and those companies now have a real competitive advantage. It will be interesting to see how this all works out in the future.
It is critical that IT be an active & even proactive participant in business decisions: The CIOs or other IT leaders sitting at that table must be engaged, understanding the business and always thinking and socializing how IT can bring value that will ultimately help the company achieve a competitive advantage over company's competitors. It's imperative the business owner be at the table and held accountable for IT decisions as well. IT is at a unique position to oversee organizational level business capabilities and key processes, however, IT can't behave in a vacuum or at arm’s length; IT acts as an agent for different functions and countless other crucial business processes that affect most of an enterprise. From a business perspective, a business area owner to neglect requirements, ongoing delivery status and tweaks required to adjust to inevitably changing needs is not just a recipe for failure but negligent governance.

IT as part of decision-making is the only way to bridge the gap between business and IT, between an industrial age and the digital era, between local and global: Most of IT pros acknowledge the gap between IT and business owners within an enterprise, but very few companies are working to bridge that gap seriously. Still, the significant portion of IT project failure is due to the lost in translation or miscommunication. IT involvement will only make a project successful if done properly and with complete and thorough testing, as IT is involved in almost every aspect of a business. Without IT a project may not get off the ground, so bring them in early when starting a project!

The rising tide of affordable cloud services and applications is accelerating this trend: The winners have embraced IT as an active participant in business decisions; it should be a complementary relationship, but often it is not in most of the organizations. Newer IT organizations can do it, but the old school IT organizations are often trapped in maintaining crumbling IT stacks. The nimble cloud solutions are allowing the business to have alternative choices and procure IT services quickly and effectively and do things that used to take the mystical IT departments months/years and millions of dollars to do. IT organizations that embrace the nimble nature of QUALITY cloud solutions will prosper, old school IT will be irrelevant soon.

IT has to step into business with knowledge and confidence to become the key strategy/ decision-making: Because more often technology is the growth engine for any businesses, and the line of business executive are also increasingly engaging in decisions that historically were made by IT because every IT project is the business project, they have to work collaboratively to make wise business decisions to ensure business as a whole is superior to the sum of pieces.

The companies that are working to bridge the decision gap will be the most successful business going forward. They see that technology is driving their business regardless of the industry segment they play in. They see it as necessary that within the enterprise, that IT and Line of Business managers work together - and are pushing in the same direction, to streamline decision making and transform their business with agility. 


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