Evolving IT as a Business Partner

I had the distinct pleasure of presenting to many local CIOs and IT professionals at Evanta’s CIO Executive Summit in Boston last Tuesday.  In speaking with a variety of attendees, one common topic revolved around how we must change our conversations and working relationship with our business users.

It is no surprise that today’s business leaders are faced with a trifecta of challenges – unwavering competitive pressures; shifting business and budgetary priorities; and unprecedented new technologies, such as cloud, analytics, mobility and social media.  Traditionally, we would do all we could to help, but were often handcuffed by a budget-driven, multi-year command and control processes for IT projects.

As we evolve to a more contemporary IT organization, we must partner much closer with its business users to understand their goals; counsel them on their technology options; and deliver timely services that enhance their agility, productivity, innovation and value for the business.  While transforming the technology is important, CIOs must also evolve their employees’ roles, skills and interaction with the business to successfully deliver on the promise of IT as a Service.  Here are just a few priorities for contemporary IT employees:

  • Become intimately familiar with a business unit’s operations, processes and goals to proactively offer services that meet their needs. To accomplish this, EMC redefined its IT organization to have “demand center” leaders that are tightly aligned with our business partners.
  • Better understand how we run a demand-driven, IT as a Service business. This enables us to automate and digitize key processes, as well as better design, cost, price and market differentiated services that exceed our users expectations.
  • And, finally, we can no longer deploy services and hope for the best. We must be flexible and capture user sentiment; encourage two-way feedback; and continually iterate and innovate on our services to meet their complex and changing needs.

As CIOs of contemporary IT organizations, we have a seat at the table, but it requires that we evolve our relationship and rapport to help our business users compete more successfully.  How are you evolving your business unit partnerships for the future?

This blog was previously published on the Evanta Leadership Network.

About the Author: Vic Bhagat