IT’s role in business is undergoing significant change. At least, it is undergoing significant change in companies that recognize the important role IT leaders play in achieving business objectives in an increasingly digital marketplace. IT alignment with business objectives is critical because so many business goals are driven by technological innovation.
This is a change from the past, in which IT was seen largely as a maintenance division. It was responsible for troubleshooting, implementing new solutions, and looking for ways to streamline costs, but it was rarely consulted about the direction of the business. That’s all changing because of the centrality of digital initiatives in achieving business goals.
Even in companies where the importance of IT alignment is now recognized, IT leaders can feel caught in the middle, directing business objectives through technology adoption, while also tasked with keeping existing systems running. This is often complicated further by a shrinking or, at best, a flat budget for IT. How can division leaders promote IT alignment with all of its practical considerations for maintaining existing systems?
Get a Holistic View of the Business: IT alignment happens best when IT has a seat in the boardroom. They get a better view of the overarching goals of the enterprise and can help identify ways to achieve them through technology. They can see interrelated aspects of any company goals and help anticipate challenges or ways in which one technology may solve multiple issues, or how an overall strategy might offer disruptive change, such as with a cloud migration or a network upgrade.
Understand Expectations and Help Manage Them: IT alignment helps IT get a clearer understanding of the reasons for a technology implementation. For instance, if a line-of-business manager wants to shift a workload to the cloud to achieve significant cost savings, IT leaders can help formulate the total cost of ownership to determine whether the expected cost savings are a realistic expectation.
IT is in a perfect position to champion large technology initiatives (such as a digital transformation) or major upgrades, such as a move to software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) or adoption of a fleet of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. By not only managing the technological transition but also the business objectives side, including costs and expectations for outcomes, IT leaders emerge as enterprise leaders.
Provide Insight on Innovations as They Emerge: When IT alignment is successful, IT leaders are able to keep executives up-to-date on the latest innovations and how they might solve challenges or introduce new benefits, such as improved productivity or improved customer satisfaction.
For IT leaders still working in the background to keep systems running, the idea of IT alignment may seem attractive but far from the reality they are working in. To get started creating a role for IT in the boardroom, begin by connecting with line-of-business managers. Walk the floor with your vice president of manufacturing, talk with your sales manager, and listen to the difficulties your customer service managers are facing. By engaging in conversations about real business challenges, you’ll start to improve IT alignment right away.
If you’re interested in continuing the discussion about how to align your IT team with business leaders in your enterprise, contact us at Cory Communications. We can help you identify areas in which your enterprise is missing opportunities to tap into solutions for achieving business objectives.