Exploring the New IT
Enabling business strategy in the digital age
James Bond vs. Blofeld. Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader. Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster. IT vs. "the business." Wait. What? Let's face it; the adversarial relationship between "the business" and IT has been a long and enduring one. And the argument for reconciliation is as old as the rivalry itself.
It's time to stop paying lip service to that argument and actually do something about it. Both sides need to extend the olive branch and connect every aspect of the business with IT. For organizations both large and small, success in today's global marketplace will depend on it. And IT can lead the way.
A win-win situation
In the newly released book The New IT: How Technology Leaders Are Enabling Business Strategy in the Digital Age, IT thought leader Jill Dyché asserts that today's CIOs are in a unique position to refashion their companies and themselves by supporting the rapid rise in business-led technology projects. By being present in the corporate strategy in this way, CIOs can help shape critical decisions that will be a win for both sides of the organization.
Of course, not every company that seeks to transform and strengthen IT's role in corporate strategy will succeed. But the ones that do succeed will share a handful of common traits. These companies will:
- Embrace the digital age – warts and all.
- Align the IT organization with business priorities.
- Organize IT according to the company's culture and strengths.
As a result, IT will be poised to take on a stronger, enduring role as a business partner.
Today's IT challenges: real and perceived
Beware; certain tendencies and behaviors toward other groups or departments can impede forward progress, no matter where you sit on the organizational chart. The first step in transforming, modernizing and innovating IT's relationship with the rest of the business is understanding the challenges you'll face. While some challenges are legitimate, others may be remnants left behind by previous leaders or staff members. Start taking down the walls, and closely examine each challenge so you'll know which are real and which aren't.
Transforming your IT department
The Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu once said, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." This bit of philosophy applies quite nicely to strategic planning. After all, strategic planning needn’t be a difficult and protracted activity. Your IT strategy should be business-aligned, focused, easy-to-share and, above all, simple.
In addition, make prioritizing key IT initiatives a formal process – one that's no less important than choosing those initiatives in the first place. Once initiatives are chosen and prioritized, create a plan and enlist constituents, thereby turning stakeholders into partners.
Developing leadership in the new IT
Every leader knows that a department is only as effective as its people, and this is as true for IT as anyone. In order for IT departments to stay relevant in the organization and meet the growing requirements of the business, IT leaders need to attract new talent as well as reward existing staff members for good work. And while change is rarely easy, IT leaders are in a prime position to lead a transformation that can have a ripple effect from internal systems all the way your relationships with customers.