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This is the second article (the first was merely an introduction) in this series towards pulling together the facets of your Information Technology architecture and aligning this resource with business goals. Approaching IT as strategically as the remainder of your business allows a new way of achieving tangible value through technology investments, not merely by allocating technology a budget based purely on financial position alone.
The business of IT
Because IT tends to be responsible primarily to finance, investments in technology are often not seen as a business discussion. Without this two-way communication between technology and business, solutions struggle to provide what business leaders actually need to support their efforts. So if the aim is to close the business-IT divide, it’s critical that you first gain a clear picture of how the business leaders in your organisation envisage IT supporting their activities.
When business leaders expect different results from their Information Technology than what is delivered, the business-IT divide has claimed another victim and the perceived value of technology is compromised. Business leaders need to be convinced that IT can help improve its performance, and to achieve this conviction mechanisms should be implemented specifically to ensure that the technology delivers precisely what business people need.
Getting these two crucial spheres of your business together allows the business leaders the opportunity to be very clear on what their expectations of technology are, and gives IT a voice to respond to any criticisms as well as the vision to align its efforts with the objectives of the enterprise.
Once there is clarity in both camps regarding precisely what can actually be delivered, the next steps will often become quite obvious. When your business people know what to expect of technology, and have been able to explain their own requirements and have these met, exploiting the real value of this investment starts to become a natural business process.
Bringing IT to the table
To achieve this clarity of expectation, IT leaders must be incorporated into and actively participate in the strategic planning process. The time of executives making future-looking business decisions that require technology investments, and only then including IT in the discussion is over. The technology platform has become an integral part of how your business operates, so too must the Information Technology principles in your business become more closely integrated into the decision-making structures themselves.
That decrepit notion of business leaders only really concerning themselves with the operations of IT when it directly affects their own productivity can no longer apply. Business needs to understand technology, and what the Information Technology leaders in the business are doing, to appreciate whether these investments are contributing to the business value promised.
For these two crucial spheres of your organisation to work smoothly and effectively as a unit, it is also imperative that the people leading each are up to the challenge of integrating the efforts of your enterprise.