Friday, October 05, 2018

Challenges Facing the Alignment of Business and IT Goals

The extremely fast growth in the rate of change in technology is creating new challenges for management, both the traditional business managers and IT management. For several years, there has been a recognition that the objectives of IT and the business overall need to be aligned to produce optimal results. Generally, this has been addressed by ramping up the role of the IT executives in the organization - creating CIO VP positions, having the CIO report to the CEO rather than the CFO, placing the CIO on the Board and other similar organizational and cultural steps.

All of this is good, but not all organizations have implemented these steps and even those who have are facing challenges.

A major source of the issues is simply the pace of change, which is rapid and unprecedented. The realization by business managers of the importance of digital transformation has led to growing requests to their IT people, from artificial intelligence to machine learning to the impact of the internet of things to simply automating greater swaths of the business activities of the organization.

The pressures on IT have led to resource, cost and budgeting issues, which of course sends pressure back to the business leaders.

To address these issues, both business and IT leaders need to change their outlook - and skill sets.

Business leaders (those executives who have not traditionally been part of the IT community) need to gain a greater understanding of IT management issues. This can be achieved by appointing the CIO as a VP and reporting to the CEO. This makes the CIO a peer with other senior executives with the concomitant elevation in the level of discourse between them. The organization also needs to create means by which the two groups can interact  - advisory committees, working groups, etc.

Such appointments can also lead to changes in the perspective of the IT leaders. Greater involvement in business issues through the board and other committees, will shape their perspective on the demands placed on IT. Over the long run, these changes will serve to shape the executive positions themselves as well as their educational processes, with people interested in business management gaining greater IT knowledge and IT managers enhancing their general business knowledge.

This is the trend anyway, but explicit recognition of it in corporate management will help to speed the process.

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