Creating Better Business-IT Alignment Within Your Organization
As digital transformation becomes more of a factor for business, relations between business and IT seemed like it was improving. In 2012, Capgemini asked 1300 senior executives “do your company’s IT leaders and top executives have the same understanding on IT’s role within your organization?” Sixty-five percent answered yes. Then things turned south. Last year Capgemini asked the same question and only thirty-seven percent of executives responded yes, down fifty-three percent from just six years ago.
This decline happened as IT leaders finally got the “seat at the table” they’ve always wanted. In other words, even as business leaders have begun to value IT like never before, their trust in the people who manage IT has dropped. What went wrong?
Addressing these key factors can improve alignment within your organization.
Change is Tough on Everyone
Technology is rapidly evolving and it’s putting a strain on both IT leaders and executives. Rapid change creates major concerns for executives and that can cause them to panic if they feel as though the company is being left behind.
There is nothing IT leaders can do to slow the evolution of technology. But they can prevent change from derailing business-IT relationships. Make sure that executives know and understand what IT is doing to address change even when work overload makes it easy to skip this step. A lot of these issues can be resolved by transparency within the organization.
A “Seat at the Table” Can Be Challenging for IT Leaders
In the past, IT leaders were often left out of the process when it came to technology purchases. The attitude was often “we just bought this system, now install it for us.” Today, that’s changed. IT has taken more of a role in vetting purchases, but it can take time. In the medical field, a simple change in a record system can take 100 hours of feasibility analysis before a decision and more time testing to make it work properly. It’s easy for the business-IT relationship to get lost in the process.
The CIO is in a unique position to oversee all aspects of the business including technological purchases and to open a dialogue between executives and IT to facilitate technological change. Because they are sitting at the table it becomes critical to report directly to the CEO as a peer and to navigate technological change from the executive level down.
Communication is the Key
CIOs and other tech leaders can make better use of their status by focusing on “soft” leadership skills and communication. Without these critical skills, IT can never truly come into its own at the leadership level. IT leaders must understand the business on a deeper level and present technology as a revenue driver. CIOs must begin to gain an understanding of the key metrics that measure success. IT leaders can move the process of improving relations by thoroughly understanding corporate goals. Then, honestly communicating those goals and objectives downward through the organization and explaining how their teams are meeting those objectives.