For much of this century, technology spend has outpaced GDP and the budgets of most other corporate functions. In 2024, Forrester estimates that tech spending will reach $4.7 trillion, up another 5.3% over 2023. This increased spending combined with highly competitive markets puts significant pressure on technology leaders to provide IT capabilities that help drive their firm’s growth agenda while managing costs and increasing efficiencies. Unfortunately, IT strategies disconnected from business goals jeopardize the positive impact that IT teams can have on revenue, profit, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement.

To thrive and grow, you must make a strategic commitment to “high-performance IT,” defined as the pursuit of continuously improving business results through technology.

Forrester’s high-performance IT research recognizes that every organization is unique and that a one-size-fits-all approach to IT doesn’t exist. Instead of forcing technology leaders to follow a predetermined IT maturity path or adopt practices that are too advanced for their organization, high-performance IT enables leaders to determine the appropriate mix of technology capabilities required to achieve business outcomes. As a result, leaders can boost business performance with the right technology investments for their company. High-performance IT is grounded in three principles:

  • Strong alignment between your business needs and technology capabilities. Firms with this strong alignment grow 2.4 times faster than peers. They also have twice the profitability. Strong alignment pays off in business results.
  • Deep trust in technology and the IT organization. Business is based on trust. “Doing business with a brand” is the most popular method by which consumers honor the brands they trust. With technology at the center of customer experience, trust is therefore also a core principle of high-performance IT.
  • High adaptivity to rapidly changing technology capabilities with the right speed and scale to meet the unique and common needs of your business. Firms that adapt their technology capabilities to meet changing business needs lead in higher customer satisfaction and faster growth.

With these principles at the core, high-performance IT leaders align their primary investments and execution to one of four IT styles. These styles represent sets of capabilities aligned with business needs (see figure). At every level of the organization — enterprise, business unit, and initiative — firms will have a dominant style based on their specific strategic objectives.

Each of the four styles — enabling, co-creating, amplifying, and transforming — consists of a unique mix of technology, practices, and skills, optimally balanced to drive results for your business. High-performance IT functions like a fine-tuned machine that constantly calibrates itself to the speed and scale of desired business changes.

To make the pivot to high-performance IT, you must examine your current state and the readiness of your leadership and organization to plot the right path forward. The strong commitment to align technology to business needs will push you to establish the right leadership, technology, and operating model to scale efficiently and move with high velocity and committed momentum. Only then will technology earn its proper place at the table of business success.

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