CIOIT-Business Alignment

Is IT Having an Identity Crisis?

All of the forward-thinking businesses understand the value of IT these days—but not all businesses are forward-thinking. In many places, proving IT’s value is a war still being waged. Likewise, IT workers themselves often have yet to awaken to the significant influence they have on helping or hurting business performance. In an article for Computerworld, Minda Zetlin addresses this potential identity crisis.

The View from the Frontlines

To begin with, here are some numbers from a survey of 708 CIOs, illustrating turbulence in how IT is viewed:

Among respondents, 84% reported that their companies’ line of business departments employ their own IT staffs.

Forty percent of the CIOs said that they make 50% or less of the IT decisions for their companies. And 39% said that business departments buy their own technology without consulting IT “often,” “very often” or “most of the time.” Meantime, IT departments themselves perform a shrinking proportion of the technology work they still oversee, with 24% of the respondents saying they outsource more than 50% of their IT and only 9% saying they outsource none at all.

For IT to get its power and respect back, it needs to start acting like it deserves it. For instance, although IT’s most basic functions fall under the category of cost center, that does not inhibit IT in any way from partnering with the business to improve customer experience or foster innovation. These activities are revenue drivers, and when such things become commonplace, the notion of IT as a money pit will inevitably dissipate.

Data analysis and the budding Chief Digital Officer (CDO) position are in many cases treated as a separate domain from IT, and it can be argued that this divide happened because CIOs and IT just were not stepping up to own the data. CDOs (etc.) began to fill the void. And frankly, in organizations of sufficient complexity or where data is of particular importance, maybe a CDO is necessary for proper division of labor. But CIOs must get active about having their data analysts provide at least basic training in analysis and modeling to IT staff, so that staff is better enabled to help the business with its problems. Data is the future of efficiency gains, and it would behoove IT to spearhead those gains.

Yet another area of dispute is whether IT should be supporting strategy with great platforms or instead outright setting strategy itself. And within that dispute, the sub-dispute in either case is the question of, “To what extent?” There are no easy answers here, so maybe it is most efficient for CIOs to simply ask themselves what they can do to deliver the best value with IT right now.

Lastly, there is the issue of how IT should convince other business units to involve it in technology decisions. One solution is to simply make the process so straightforward and breezy that no one would want to work around it. Another solution is to flip the perspective. Instead of IT saying, “You need to include us in decisions,” IT can say, “If you include us, we can confirm that you are getting the best value with your proposed selection, or help you negotiate a better deal or locate a superior alternative.”

These are some of the ways IT can stand on its own feet confidently. Now get marching. You can view the original article here;

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