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Transforming IT to Serve the Business

By Andrea Spiegelhoff, Partner

The goal of IT has long ceased to be a matter of smooth and trouble-free provision of technology. Now, the goal is to serve the enterprise as an enabler of operational efficiency and as a catalyst for growth.

In their quest for higher revenues and profits, all other parts of the business are also focused on those twin goals. Many therefore feel they are entitled to make technology decisions for themselves, and believe they have the know-how to purchase technology and IT services on their own, creating fragmentation and decentralization across the enterprise. This uncontrolled and disjointed approach to technology investment threatens the hard-won integration of IT in business enterprises and raises questions of compliance and security.

Here are the Top 5 changes a CIO can initiate to take IT back into the right hands.

  1. Organize the enterprise to reflect its objectives. Companies that still have a retained organization for each and every outsourcing contract, and thereby administer and implement individual contracts differently, cannot support the business consistent with its defined corporate strategy or manage costs and productivity accordingly. Responsibility for recurring processes and procedures should be bundled, wherever possible, in a single function. A business-oriented IT department is in the best position to merge relationship management, contract, performance, and financial management of disparate sourcing relationships.

  2. Enable IT to provide a service, not individual technical components. A service-oriented IT organization must share responsibility for ensuring that new employees are productive as quickly as possible by providing them with a fully configured workplace on their first day at work. These and other IT services should be available in a business service catalog and not in a purely technical component catalog. This catalog serves as the basis for collaboration with other departments and, at the same time, is the basis for assessing the cost of IT in relation to a company’s value creation.

  3. CIOs must introduce process-oriented thinking in their organization. Formulating processes in an “audit-proof” way is not enough. Processes must be implemented end-to-end in such a way that other departments see them not as a burden but as a way to facilitate their day-to-day business. The IT organization must not propose and define processes that only have to do with IT, but specify competencies and responsibilities that extend beyond IT, creating an integrated, end-to-end incident management process, for example.

  4. Dust off your hiring policy. If IT is going to support and help shape the business, it needs employees who have the requisite business skills to communicate effectively with other departments. IT expertise and specialized knowledge are a matter of course in an IT organization; knowledge and experience of the employer’s or the customer’s industry form the basis for successful implementation of IT strategies that align to the business. IT organizations need a hiring strategy that describes the competencies required and converts them into specific job descriptions.

  5. Conduct holistic professional and in-service training. IT organizations can only fulfill these sizable business requirements if, in addition to IT skills and business competencies, its spokespeople possess target group-specific communication capability, a concern for customers’ needs and the ability to advocate and manage issues.

Organizational change is a direct route to strengthening a company’s competitiveness. ISG helps companies survive IT transformation and come out stronger. For additional information, please contact me.

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