Have you ever wondered why – no matter what you do – it seems that each step forward still leaves you miles behind, while the rest of the world is charging ahead?
You’re not alone; especially if you’re in IT. As discussed in my last blog article, technology is changing at a faster rate than our human ability to adapt, yet IT is expected to adapt to new technologies that drive business innovation faster than ever.
What will it take to keep up? CIOs everywhere are being forced to take a hard look at their organizations and ask themselves, what do we need to do differently in order to deliver more business value, faster?
Being Strategic vs. Just Keeping the Lights On
There are three foundational pillars that will determine the ability of IT to move from just “keeping the lights on” to being a truly strategic, innovative partner for the business:
- Top-performing IT talent
- IT alignment with the business
- A structure that can deliver on today’s demands and adapt to tomorrow’s
If even one of these foundational pillars is weak, it can significantly impact IT’s ability to deliver business value.
The current “war for talent” is a harsh reality for many IT departments, and goes far beyond a simple scarcity of suitable candidates. Understaffing leads to an overworked IT organization that simply does not have the time and energy to focus on strategic initiatives. When that happens, the IT organization begins to stagnate – and likely experience higher turnover – and that affects overall business performance.
In addition to fine-tuning efforts to attract and retain relevant IT resources, IT needs to create a culture of continuous improvement and professional development for existing staff. Research has shown the following:
- Growth and development is the second strongest engagement driver after belief in senior leadership.
- Employees who use their strengths every day are more likely to be engaged at work, 8% more productive and 15% less likely to leave the organization.
If you want to drive business innovation, you must have alignment between IT and the business. The speed of change in today’s digital economy forces businesses to move faster and adjust on the fly — and that cannot happen without IT as a core part of the operating infrastructure.
What does it look like when IT is aligned with the business? IT is:
- Closely aligned with the strategic goals of the business
- Able to adapt to meet future needs and emerging challenges
- Proactively collaborating with business leaders on a regular basis
- Driving continuous improvement and speed to market
The key to aligning IT with the business is communication. When decision-makers make it a point to talk with each other and collaborate on direction and business goals, they can determine how technology – and IT – can help the business achieve its goals better, faster and more cost effectively.
Structure and Process Maturity
CIOs must be willing to take a clear-eyed, honest look at their IT organization and thoroughly assess its structure and process maturity, starting with benchmarking IT against high performers in their industries:
- How do current support costs compare to others?
- Are current “run” costs in line with industry peers and budget?
- Is the IT team able to contribute to value-add activities?
- Does IT’s value-add significantly outstrip the budget?
- Can IT keep pace with the rate of change in the industry?
The simple truth is that the complexity and speed of change in today’s business environment makes it virtually impossible for an IT organization to “do it all on their own” using internal resources. That’s why top-performing IT organizations are partnering with strategic AMS partners to design, build and optimize a complex hybrid IT infrastructure that frees up the internal team to focus on strategic activities that drive business innovation.
The Cost of Misalignment
The impact of complacency will be costly. It will go far beyond the IT department, to the very heart of the health and legacy of the business.
CIOs that recognize and adapt to evolving business challenges will accelerate business agility, performance and innovation. Those that don’t adapt will see their companies’ competitive advantage begin to erode.
Is your IT organization positioned to drive business performance and innovation? Use our benchmark guide to assess where your organization currently stands, and contact itelligence if you’d like to explore how we can help.