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2017 IT Goal: Convergence with the Business

Jan 02 2017
Convergence with the business

If you’re not there already, a major professional IT goal for 2017 should be convergence between IT and the business it serves. “Alignment” implied separate entities, but success in a rapid-change business climate requires union.

The Problem

Too often an organizational map shows “the business” and its functions on one side with IT services on the other. The business has all the strategic plans and requirements on its side. IT has strategic and tactical arms, but they’re not working in concert with the rest of the organization. When this is the case, the business’s goals aren’t driving IT’s strategy, so they aren’t driving its tactics, either. The misalignment is costly. The value of IT’s solutions should be the value they provide to the business. And that is determined by how well they support the business strategy.

Closing the gap

If there is a perception among your business colleagues that the professional IT service side of the business is heading down its own path, you could consider deploying business relationship managers (BRMs). A “strategic” BRM might be your ambassador/translator to the business. A “tactical” BRM would coordinate projects and make sure the business knows (and is using) all the benefits of IT’s offerings.
Important questions
There are frameworks for measuring success; but at a simple level, there are three questions you could ask yourself:

  1. Can you clearly map each of IT’s plans to a formal business objective?
  2. How satisfied are the leaders in your business with how quickly IT is able to respond to their needs?
  3. How effectively is IT contributing to innovation?
  4. What’s the level of awareness among the business leaders of IT’s ability to support innovation?
  5. How satisfied are they with IT’s expertise in innovation?
  6. How many initiatives with the green light came out of an innovation suggestion from IT?

Reflecting Success

When a high percentage of your organization’s strategic goals are met as a result of IT’s strategic initiatives, you know you’re bringing value to the enterprise.Going in the other direction, the same can be said when the enterprise is realizing opportunities because of IT developments. And one sure sign of success is when your BRMs report that IT’s ideas and projects are being championed by the business leaders without significant prompting from the BRMs. Convergence might truly have come when business leaders and IT leaders are speaking with one voice, promoting each other’s projects and goals.

Going into 2017, especially when considering hardware or infrastructure investments, thinking convergence rather than just alignment (or, worse, neither) could make an enormous difference. This applies not only to enterprise success but to the smooth running of the IT operation.

When IT and the business converge, friction disappears, because there are no longer two bodies rubbing against one another but rather one combined whole.

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