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How aligning business leaders and IT leaders creates an IT transformation

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By: Ahmed Banafa

 

IT leaders are often immersed in analyzing data, running systems, dealing with new technologies, and managing IT transformation. It can be hard for them to see the bigger picture of the business and understand why all these moving parts of the business exist in the first place. That raises an important question: Can IT leaders understand business and can business leaders understand IT? This question is the core of the concept of IT-business alignment, the main goal of which is to build a stronger, more innovative, and competitive business through a solid partnership between IT and the business.

 

IT LeaderThis alignment is a two-way street: considerations of how technology could be used to drive innovation and efficiency in business and how technology can improve return on investment for businesses willing to invest are equally important. With this in mind, the starting point for any IT leader is to understand that the business is coupled with IT and to treat the staff of other departments as internal customers. This mindset will have a positive impact on the relationship of IT with other departments.

 

How can IT leaders act like business leaders?

IT leaders have the opportunity to help businesses deal with IT transformation as an organizational asset—rather than an organizational expense—by following a few steps that will help make this goal possible:

 

  • Always ask "How can IT make it easier for business units to do business?" That will help both sides understand the benefits of collaboration and cooperation.
  • Provide better, more personalized, and on-time IT services to shutter any reputation of a long IT wait time.
  • Make it easy for internal customers to access IT services, in a way that doesn't require a complicated ticketing system.
  • Make IT part of other business activities, including sales and marketing, which will help the IT team paint a complete picture of other business activities and their relationship to IT.
  • The IT team should include stakeholders who are not typically part of IT but who have an interest in improving the business process, even if they aren't tech savvy.
  • Consider users to be subject matter experts (SMEs). Accommodating their requests will make future training of users much easier.
  • Add value to the everyday routine of all business units in small ways to make things run more smoothly.
  • Make sure IT is represented in all business meetings, not just to solve an issue or present a new service but as a trusted partner to all departments.
  • Give regular IT updates that highlight major initiatives and their impact on the business' bottom line.
  • Make presentations to top management to highlight the ROI of current and future technology projects.
  • Let the stakeholders try the new technology first before deployment to get a sense of how it can best help them.

These steps will make it easy for IT leaders to change the perception of IT as a cost center and help the rest of the business achieve its goals.

 

Challenges facing IT leaders in the business world

One major challenge facing IT leaders is the difficulty of viewing all business units in a holistic way. IT staff and management need to decouple from their respective areas to venture outside their comfort zone. Another challenge for IT is to convince business leaders that they also have a stake in IT through its impact on the bottom line. One way to bring them to the table is to show that business and technology share responsibility for the process and end product provided to customers.

 

Overcoming these challenges will make it easier for IT leaders to think like business leaders. It's not an easy task due to the differences in departmental cultures and processes, but ultimately IT will help the rest of the business stay competitive and innovative.

 

To learn more about evolving your infrastructure for the New Style of Business, watch the webinar Perspectives: How to capitalize on the wave of IT change.

 

 

About the author

Banafa AhmedAhmed Banafa

 

Ahmed Banafa has extensive experience in IT operations and management, as well as a research background in a variety of techniques and analysis of new technology trends. A professor, reviewer, and technical contributor, Ahmed is the recipient of the Distinguished Tenured Staff Award and Certificate of Honor from the City and County of San Francisco.

About the author

Connect with Ahmed:

 Follow me on Twitter @banafaahmed

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