Business and IT Goals Really Are Aligned — They Just Don't Know It

    March 7, 2017

    By Steve Mason

    Executives used to view IT as a cost center, but now they expect the department to drive innovation and, ultimately, revenue. IT wants to prove itself to be a valuable asset to the company — so why do the two groups often feel as though their goals aren’t aligned?

    From the early days of enterprise IT up until a last few decades, the relationship between business executives and IT professionals was simple — IT professionals kept computer systems running, and executives tried to keep the cost of doing so as low as possible. Because their work was not consumer-facing, IT’s goals were not considered to be directly aligned with those of the business.

    Much has changed in the last few years, yet that attitude towards IT has remained intact. As early as 2013, a McKinsey Global Survey found that “more executives see IT as core and relevant to day-to-day business, not merely a cost center.” That IT initiatives bring critical value to companies today is not so much an argument as it is a self-evident fact of the business world.

    Not Meeting Expectations

    But in spite of IT’s obvious role in driving business value, IT professionals — CIOs in particular — still feel as if their hands are tied when it comes to executing on business expectations. Deloitte Global released results of a CIO Survey conducted in 2016. The thrust of the survey’s discoveries: IT executives see the areas from which they can derive business value, but they either struggle to convince the organization of this value or lack the resources needed to pursue it. About three quarters of the survey’s respondents feel the most important IT capability is aligning IT activities to business strategies, but only 5% felt as though their respective departments were up to par in this regard.

    Businesses expect IT to maintain efficient services, bolster cybersecurity, and improve business processes. While the two parties may differ on how IT should go about meeting these expectations, that doesn’t mean they don’t both see them as critically important — the difference is in prioritization and capability. Respondents felt limited in their capability to meet virtually every one of the goals they cited as being important to the business.

    Take, for instance, innovation. 57% of respondents said their organization expects them to assist in business innovation and developing new products and services. However, more than half (52%) of those same respondents said this capability either does not exist within their current operation or is still in development. According to Deloitte, “These numbers suggest that, even though growth through an innovative focus on the customer is a huge business expectation, a majority of CIOs haven’t built innovation and disruption capabilities to meet the needs of the business.”

    Why the Disconnect?

    Why does IT have such a difficult time delivering on these business expectations? The problem is complex: the never-ending chase to maintain proper security protocols, the challenge of delivering changes when the network is a mixture of cloud resources and legacy hardware, and the dwindling IT budgets are just a few of the issues that hold IT professionals back.

    However, communication between IT professionals and executives, or CIOs and fellow C-suite employees, can present their own unique set of challenges. The lines between CIO and CEO have blurred over the last few years as IT’s role in driving business has grown. CIOs are now responsible for more than just managing IT — now, they hire staff, manage resources, and craft budgets while CEOs continue to oversee the entire operation. Since IT only makes up a part of that, it is important that CIOs maintain an effective level of communication with their CEO. This can difficult, considering CEOs generally do not have a great understanding of IT.

    The key to thriving and viable IT is bridging the communication gap between the tech-savvy IT professionals and other key executives who may not have the depth of understanding when it comes to network and technological capabilities. That means IT teams must equip themselves with the tools needed to simply demonstrate the value of their work to executives. With simple, at-a-glance views of IT health and risk, as well as metrics that demonstrate the costs saved from avoided disasters, the Vityl Suite features exactly those tools.

    If IT wants to deliver on the business expectation of lowering costs while driving innovation, they must first leverage their data to move from a reactive, chaotic state into the highest level of organizational maturity. The Vityl suite of software can help it get there.