by Alexander Peters, Ph.D.

Alex-Peters The “old” IT — notoriously self-marginalizing function that delivered one-size-fits-all infrastructures, blew up the IT budget, and delivered “IT speak” instead of business relevant solutions — has ceased to exist. CIOs have either outsourced it, recreated it from its ashes, or are combining both approaches to establish a new and more business-relevant IT.

Surveys, success stories, case-studies, forums, articles and blogs are all demonstrating that IT’s transformation from technology silo to business technology enabler is progressing well. But no matter how efficiently CIOs lead this transition inside their IT ecosystem, the ultimate success depends on whether they manage to improve the business' satisfaction with what and how IT delivers. A significant gap remains between business’ expectations of technology and the perceptions of IT in the enterprise (see the Forrester report, "The Business-IT Expectation Gap").If the new IT machinery works well, bridging this gap should be a simple matter of ensuring that the communications between business and IT flows. But making this communication work is a complicated challenge since in many firms:   

IT governance is immature. Conventional wisdom says that a few decisions related to IT spending priorities, resources distribution, service quality, risks and security levels should not be made from inside IT  (See the Forrester report “Governing The Business Technology Service Portfolio”). But the Forrester’s 2008 Business Technology survey (see the Forrester report “Closing The Business Technology Alignment Gap”) shows that many firms have not reached this level of governance maturity yet. In these firms CIOs struggle to explain the business value of IT and are relegated to playing catch-up to business expectations.
IT-business relationships are sub-optimal. Of the 503 IT executives who responded to Forrester’s 2008 IT Governance survey, 62% and 72% respectively stated that their organizations have neither a group managing the relationship with the IT and the business nor an IT marketing function responsible for communications (see the Forrester report, “The State Of IT Governance In North American And European Enterprises”). The survey has not gathered data related to measuring and managing the experience of business customers with IT, we estimate that only a few IT organizations systematically manage the overall satisfaction of the business with the received IT services.
Most CIOs understand these problems. Given their importance, if quick fixes existed, they would already have been widely implemented. Sustainable solutions are based on few best-practices that need customized execution (see the Forrester report, “Back To Basics - IT Strategy In Turbulent Times”). Among these practices, defining and marketing the portfolio of business technology services are critical competencies, as they set the objectives for the business-IT communications (see the Forrester report “IT Must 'Get' business Satisfaction”). 

If this topic is of interest for you, please join me for a more detailed discussion during my webinar,“How Should IT Qualify To Satisfy The Business” on April 21, 2009. Make sure that you register. Thanks!