Business/IT Alignment – It’s Time to Change the Conversation

By Ric Opal| November 20, 2017

“IT alignment” has been on the radar of both business and IT leaders for some time. While this gap is nothing new, it’s been exasperated by the cloud and current speed of innovation that we’re experiencing under the so-called “Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

Despite unrelenting attention to this topic, organizations still struggle to use IT to achieve better business outcomes due to differences in departmental goals, culture, and point-of-view. In today’s competitive environment, any delay or misstep in implementing and leveraging new technology will have an amplified effect on the business’ ability to maintain a competitive footing. Organizations that are unable to bridge the gap between business and IT are faced with the following challenges:

  • Slower results
  • More project failures
  • No measurable ROI on technology-led projects
  • No real perceived value from the business

Change Your Business Results by Changing the Conversation

Frankly, the business is tired of IT telling them what technology to use. Microsoft 365 may be all the rage in tech communities, but why does the CEO care about a platform that bundles Office 365, Windows 10, and Microsoft Enterprise Mobility and Security together? The business doesn’t speak in terms of product names; they speak in terms of ROI, business value, and corporate strategy.

IT professionals who are able to speak the same language as the business are in a unique position to drive change across the organization. That being said, forging new connections to solve business problems is a two-way street. The business must also invite IT to the table so they can begin asking the right questions and developing more meaningful conversations.

Speaking the Same Language as the Business

A critical first step to any IT initiative (really, any initiative) is to clearly define how it will make a strategic business impact, regardless of what tools will be used to get there. For example, when engaging with the business, IT leaders should be comfortable asking pointed questions, such as:

  • What is your average sale size?
  • How many sales appointments does your team make on a weekly basis?
  • What is your close rate of those sales?
  • How long does it take to close a sale?

By identifying potential ROI in terms of increased sale size, close rate, number of appointments per week, or decreased closing time of the sale, IT can then architect a solution with a measurable number that aligns to the business – now you’re speaking their language!

It’s Not About the “Hammer,” It’s About the “House”

As IT is taking on the role of business advisor, they need to be able to sell the business on the things that the business is buying. For example, a contractor doesn’t sell the customer on a house based on the brand of hammer and number of nails they’re using. They’re selling the client on the three-bedroom home with a front porch that they’ve been dreaming about.

While the need to bridge the gap between business and IT is obvious, bringing these two points of view is easier said than done when the pace of technological change continues to accelerate and grow in complexity.

Partnering with IT Consultants to Help Bridge the Gap

In today’s rapidly changing business environment, the responsibility to maintain a continuous alignment between the business and IT has become a full-time job. We’re starting to see specialized individuals emerge who are able to develop a clear roadmap for the future that leads a company through digital transformations. This person is just as good at communicating as they are technically; they are just as good at leading the conversation as they are at listening. Essentially, modern businesses are looking for their “Rosetta Stone,” to help IT articulate business opportunities and problems and then translate those needs into real solutions.

If you’re looking for a strategic partner who can help you identify your business goals, map solutions, and develop a roadmap for success, BDO Digital is uniquely positioned to help you align the best people, process, and technology to achieve better business outcomes. Contact us to learn more about our approach.

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