Technologists love definitions. In fact, technologists particularly like arguing about definitions.

The term "BT" for example, is constantly under debate. Is it IT or BT? What is BT anyway? How is it different? This line of questioning really doesn't help deliver business results. I often equate it to trying to define "happy."

A poor business perception of IT's performance could actually be a strong indicator that IT is being driven more by arguing about definitions than getting stuff done. I've seen these "definitional disagreements" bring many technology supported business projects to their knees, the classic being data warehousing projects or CRM implementations.   

Whether you understand (or like) the term BT or not, the key to achieving better technology integration with business strategy is to avoid discussions about definitions. In fact, the magic answer is in the dictionary definition of happy itself.

hap·py [hap-ee]*

  1. delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing: to be happy to see a person.
  2. characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy: a happy mood; a happy frame of mind. 

There's no clear definition here about what happiness is, only an association to some other familiar concepts – and the fact that it is "characterized by" a number of things. So too with BT. There is no clear and definitive definition (isn't that a paradox anyway?). Yet, there are some links to other familiar concepts and a list of "characterized by" criteria that help to distinguish it.

Forrester's BT Leadership Maturity Model is both a framework for these "characterized by" criteria and a method of assessment that gives a good understanding of where changes may need to be made. Forrester's Nigel Fenwick also has a great heat map tool and process for helping organizations pinpoint specific areas for improvement.

So whether you choose to use the term BT or not, is not really the issue. It's whether you're working on developing the right capabilities that business needs by recognizing the characteristics that "BT-like" organizations share.

To me, the transition from IT to BT shouldn't be made painful or unpleasant by telling people they're doing it wrong. It needs to be a rewarding, shared experience. Enjoyable, tantalizing, exciting, appetizing. Whatever BT actually is, to me it's like sex. If it doesn't feel good, you're probably doing it wrong.