Posts Tagged ‘IT-Business alignment’


Many people suffer from having too much month left at the end of their money.  Corporate IT departments are no different.  There is always more to Empty Pocketsdo than we can afford.  Without resorting to printing money, how can we make the most of what we have?

“There’s this high-priority, unbudgeted project that just came up…”

It’s not an unusual scenario.  An executive approaches you with a new project that just has to be done this year – yet your IT budget is already totally allocated.  You ask what currently planned efforts can be delayed.  Nothing – it all has to be done in addition to this new project.  You might approach other executives to see if anyone is willing to delay one of their projects, but that doesn’t usually meet with much success.  You might review all the IT expenses to see if anything can be cut there, but those were likely cut to the bone years ago.  A final step might be to go back to the original requestor and suggest that you can help if they can find the money for outside resources; otherwise, the project will have to wait until next year.  The meeting doesn’t end well.  The requestor is frustrated and muttering about the IT bureaucracy and your excessive costs.  Moreover, he vows that if he has to spend his own money, he will go outside to find the solution himself rather than waiting on your slow-moving department.

Historical solutions haven’t worked well

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The pace of business is rapidly increasing.  Technology-based enhancements to back-office operations seem to be required almost continually.  At the same time, there is an incessant demand for technology to improve the customer experience, drive innovation in products and services, and help us transform our businesses.  The backlog for IT services is growing, and there is a growing frustration with what many see as the IT roadblock in accomplishing the things they need done.Road to Success

With a significant percentage typically dedicated to keeping the lights on, there is relatively little left within most IT budgets to spend in moving the company forward.  Business executives are left scrambling to drive the changes they need to respond to new economic realities and competitive pressures.  Increasingly they are looking to cloud and SaaS offerings to help meet their business needs.  They can implement these solutions quickly with a “per use” cost basis – quite a marked contrast to the typical IT project.   And, perhaps even more appealing, they can do this without touching the IT budget.  As SaaS offerings continue to increase and address more business functions, we can expect their use to proliferate.  The pace of acceptance will be quickened with as employees continue to become more tech-savvy and SaaS vendors targeting sales to business units (instead of IT).

Shadow IT employed without IT knowledge brings several risks

Too often, this “shadow IT’ ability is implemented without the knowledge of the CIO.  This may be the result of a poor relationship between the CIO and others in the C-suite.   Or it could occur because the business unit simply feels that since IT doesn’t understand – and seems uninterested in – their business, they just don’t add much to the equation.  It could simply be that they didn’t feel it was important enough to matter.  Hiding the effort could ultimately create problems in information security, regulatory compliance, and integration with legacy systems.  If such issues come to light, the CIO may feel somewhat vindicated while the company suffers and those in the business unit grow even more frustrated with IT.

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Your future is created by what you do todayYou hear it in the press, from the  industry experts, and perhaps even from your own C-suite — the siren call to transform IT.
You know changes are needed – maybe even radical ones – to ensure future business success.  But the realities of today’s business are at the same time both demanding and limiting.

How can you begin making noticeable progress on the transformation that you know is needed for future success?

This article was written as a guest post on Martha Heller’s blog.  Martha is President of Heller Search Associates, Contributing Editor of CIO Magazine, and former Founder and Managing Director of CIO Executive Council.

Click here to read the entire article.


Corporate boards are more concerned than ever about technology and its effects on the company.

They hear the horror stories of millions of dollars sunk into technology projects that fail to meet their goals.  They see how one dissatisfied customer can use technology-enabled social media to ignite public outrage against a company. boardroom

They read about website failures during critical times and understand the potential for both short-term and long-term consequences.  They may have even themselves endured fallout from a computer virus.  They see the adverse effect a cyber-attack can have on a company in terms of bad press, lost revenue, legal woes, and erosion of customer trust.  They hear of companies failing because of inadequate preparation for continuation when a disaster occurred.

They fear rival companies gaining a competitive advantage through some technological investment.  They see whole industries disrupted as a result of new technologies.  They know of companies no longer in existence because they failed to react to technological changes.

And they see – and feel – that the pace of technological change and its effect on business is rapidly increasing.

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There has never been a stronger need for a solid relationship between the CEO and CIO.  Rapid technology advances are causing changes in societal behavior which in turn are having a profound effect on business.  Social and mobile technologies have given new power to the customer to compare products, solicit/discover third-party product recommendations, publicly voice their support or displeasure, and buy from anywhere.  This has ushered in the ‘Age of the Customer’ which Forrester defines as a “20-year business cycle in which the most successful enterprises will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers” (Technology Management in the Age of the Customer). Connecting

Technology is also enabling disruption of entire industries.  Think about the effect, for example, that Amazon has had on retail brick & mortar booksellers.  In fact, an IBM study found that 41% of CEOs expect increased competition from companies outside their industry in the near future (The Customer Activated Enterprise).  They also recognize that companies within their industry are using big data/analytics to improve their decision-making and more precisely target customers.  CEOs are placing a priority on shaking up the status quo in their organization.  There is a sense of urgency and a push for innovation, and technology is obviously a major part of the solution.

But in too many companies, there is a disconnect between the CEO and the CIO.  Jim Stikeleather writes in a Harvard Business Review blog about a research study on the changing role of the CIO and IT (The IT Conversation We Should Be Having).  In short, the study found that CEOs believe that CIOs are not in sync with the new issues CEOs are facing.  In addition, CEOs feel that CIOs do not understand where the business needs to go and do not have a strategy truly supportive of the business.  More specifically, almost half of CEOs feel IT should be a commodity service purchased as needed and do not feel that their CIO understands the business nor how to apply IT in new ways to the business.  Moreover, a KPMG survey found that only 5% of executives feel that their business and IT strategies are 100% aligned (Executives See Disconnect Between Strategy and Technology Within Their Organizations).  Given this, is there any wonder at the call for the elimination of the Chief Information Officer position and/or the addition of other C-level positions like the Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Data Officer, or Chief Digital Officer? (Will CDO Steal CIO’s Leadership Role?)  Yet I can’t help but feel that the major issue here is that too many CIOs have not truly gotten involved in the business and have not worked to develop a solid relationship with the CEO and other C-suite executives.

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