Is there an ‘IT’ between the ‘business’ and the ‘gap’?

Sparkplug gapThe debate on the gap between ‘Business’ and ‘IT’ has now become too loud – in fact, so much so, I see people discussing this in the same manner they would discuss two factions that are forced into a sort of an uneasy alliance in some war – or an election.

Take a little step back everyone.

Let’s not forget these two factions in question happen to carry the same logo on their business cards. They happen to be on the same payroll. They roll up, eventually, to the same boss.

And so, here is a question that no one seems to be asking directly: What is that ‘boss’ doing about this gap? What is his or her point of view on this debate? If he had to post a view on, for example,  Peter Schooff’s question on the BPM Forum this week at BPM.com, what would it be?

His view, IMHO is finally the most important. Because he is the one who can fix it.

Hitherto, because of the nature of technology, the kind of projects and the way it has been delivered, IT and business have been measured on different parameters. If you take a hard look, IT’s performance and the terms on which their  ‘success’ is declared has traditionally been somewhat disconnected from their internal customers, aka Business.

Today, however, technology is changing dramatically. How it is delivered is changing. The impact it can have on a business users work and on his team, indeed an entire enterprise, is changing. Organizations are betting on technology for more direct business benefits. The purpose of technology in the enterprise landscape has gone from being a support mechanism of sorts into a crucial force that has the potential to catapult business performance to a new level. The promise is bigger. The role of IT in this, of course is very crucial and with the expectation from IT going through these changes, old ways of measuring their performance will do little to help.

And, that, really is what lies at the core of the old debate of IT vs Business.

With BPM (and not necessarily because), this difference has a big implication on how IT approaches execution of BPM programs. The ‘gap’ then assumes a significance and indeed does influence outcomes of a BPM initiative.

Analysts and several industry observers have talked about the changing role of the CIO and how they should become more accountable for business outcomes. There are already Case Studies out there describing how effective IT-Business alignment has pulled off phenomenal transformation outcomes through technology. So, as we witness all those changes in technology and how it can (and should) impact businesses, there is a great opportunity for us to rethink the role of the IT organization.

And if you are that ‘boss’, this is definitely no easy task. It is not just about editing goals and objectives on an excel sheet. This will likely be one of your most challenging change programs – for at the core,  is the biggest hard-ball of it all : mind-set change.

Good luck and, hard or not, don’t take your eye off the ball!

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4 Responses to “Is there an ‘IT’ between the ‘business’ and the ‘gap’?”

  1. Chris Taylor
    February 22, 2014 at 7:07 am #

    I just love the fact that you used “hitherto” in a sentence.

    Great post.

  2. February 23, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    Good article and cogent observations!

    You mention the CEO as the person who can fix the challenging gap between the business community and the IT organization in a company. I would suggest that 1) the CEO is the *only* person in the company who can drive an initiative to close the business/IT gap; 2) the CEO alone cannot diminish or eliminate the gap; and 3) the issues surrounding an initiative of this sort can be incredibly complex.

    For the CEO to lead an initiative to close the business/IT gap, *all* of the C-team and the board of directors (BOD) must be in agreement. In my experience this is where the biggest challenge starts. Organizational initiatives typically have multiyear durations. If the organization, as with many publicly held entities, is focused primarily on quarterly results the CEO can easily lose the BOD support when a long term initiative has short term financial consequences that are perceived as harmful.

    In addition there are associated issues that accompany an initiative, such as “closing the business/IT gap,” — organizational structure, culture, and metrics. None of these are simple undertakings and the changes they can foster have their own sets of consequences.

  3. February 25, 2014 at 9:26 am #

    That is so true. The third of the three points you mention, seen along with the sort of selective attention that CEO (or the BOD) is forced to adopt in order to prioritize their time to achieve immediate results that his firm (in fact he himself) is measured against, perhaps compromises the commitment a CEO should have to bridge this gap – the ‘gap’ is something that is understandably lower on the priority. This is quite a serious problem….How do you think we can get the CEOs attention considering this will have a significant impact on his firms performance, albeit a few quarters down the line?

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