In continuation to an earlier post, where I focused on the need for Rationalization in the IT industry, In the next few posts I am going to touch upon some of the aspects / approaches that I believe will bring about the required change. This is a first post in that series.
Today across the whole IT Ecosystem the focus seems to be always about the technology/ code/version/contractors etc, never are the conversations or focus really about the business and its needs /objectives priorities. IT and Business seem to be on two different planets. Business talks about getting newer /better /cost effective services/products delivered to the customer faster while IT Departments are wondering which version of ERP needs to be implemented or should the which vendor to take 3 XXX resources from. And then there are the IT Service providers who spend bulk of the time thinking if they should be talking about data center consolidation or offshoring a the support desk to reduce cost etc. IT Departments and the service providers do need to think or work / market these initiatives/areas, but they shouldn't forget that these initiatives sometimes (very few times) really make a sizable impact on the bottom line of the company and no impact at all on the topline.
The IT ecosystem needs to get out of the world they are living in and move to the same planet as the business people and start thinking of the business and their objectives as the only priority.
But I think this is easier said then done and lot of things have to fundamentally change in the way IT is organized to make this happen. But nothing is more important than executive commitment. Not the CIO, the CEO and the business leaders will need to be IT savvy so that they can push their organizations in every possible way to leverage IT capabilities to drive competitive advantage in their business, they shouldn't approach IT as help/enabler to just run the business, but a factor that can drive exciting change in the business.
Few companies have very visibly used IT as a competitive differentiator in the way they do business, a oft repeated example is WALMART. But how many other companies have been able to - "Embed IT into the Business Process - Driving differentiation / competitive advantage. Does IT even have this objective on the Radar?
This is a two way street business leaders/teams need to stop looking at IT as a group you go to once the business / processes etc are defined so that IT team can enable with tools to help it to run smoothly. But should involve IT in the phases of strategic planning and idea inception phase itself to make this happen. For their share IT needs to be able get people on board who can participate on this table at this level of discussion, resources who are able to speak the language of business along with the IT relevant TLA's. The focus of this team(Business Technologists) is to work directly with the business team of the company in the development, prototyping and evaluation of innovative ideas/processes.
This needs to happen at all levels, I cant think of many organizations where the CIO is part of the strategic planning of organization. If the CIO isn't a part of this thinking /creation process - The Organization is not taking advantage IT to deliver value, Its just being looked upon as support service that enables the plans set by the business.
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