The 5 Big Strategic ITSM Challenges for 2015 - CHALLENGE #2: Business-IT convergence
by Dr Nigel Martin, on 11-Oct-2017 16:07:00
Continuing the theme of the 5 big strategic ITSM challenges for 2015, this week, we take a look at business-IT convergence.
For years, there has been talk about business-IT alignment - but little about what this actually looks like and how to achieve it. Then people started talking about business-IT integration; another equally vague concept that seemed to mean “a bit more than aligned”. Then came business-IT fusion. Despite the vague definitions of each, it’s obvious that there is a desire to get IT and the business working more harmoniously together.
61% of businesses rated IT as “fair” or “poor” business partners. (Source: Deloitte CIO Survey 2013)
Business leaders shout “IT is not doing what we want!” This may be true, but the door swings both ways. Yes, IT should make efforts to deliver what the business needs. But the business must also do what technology makes possible. Frequently, there is a difference between what the business needs and what the business thinks it needs. If Thomas Edison had relied on a focus group to innovate, he would have produced bigger candles. Likewise, if technology options are not put on the table, business opportunities can be missed. Look at Kodak. They were too slow to digitalize their business, so they were left without a business. Somebody, somewhere in the business must have seen it coming - but that voice was never heard. When so much of what businesses offer to customers today is technology-centric, it is imperative that IT gets more involved in the core strategy of the business to both support and influence it; to help the business avoid an embarrassing “Kodak moment”.
It is not alignment that is required, but convergence. Side-by-side alignment of two functions, driven by a common top-level strategy, is very different from engagement and convergence at multiple levels. Convergence requires breaking through the silo walls to set up new human connections and touch-points which transcend geographical, departmental and hierarchic boundaries, with a view to create value. The result of convergence is fusion: a common purpose, common language, common tools and routine day-to-day engagement between business and IT people – at all levels. It’s not a partnership (partnership implies two distinct entities). IT and the business need to be one and the same; entwined at the strategic, tactical and operational levels. The process of convergence is the journey to business-IT fusion. But how do we get there? Of course, a strategic approach is needed.
Business-IT alignment/integration/fusion is a maturity slope – it has no well-defined steps. The more engagement is created between IT people and business people of different levels, the greater the convergence and the higher the maturity.
The first task is plotting where you are today. What is the current interface between IT and the business? What does it look like? What are the touch points? What level do they happen at? Does it work? The chances are that the number of connections between IT people and business people are limited (most of them will be through the service desk or via SLA meetings). They tend to stay away from each other. So, making a list of current touch points should be easy as there will be few.
From there, identify the gaps. Where should there be interactions between IT and the business where none exist today? In essence, business-IT convergence happens when IT stays relevant to the business by becoming an integral part of it.
You can read more about the top 5 Strategic ITSM Challenges in 2015 in our latest briefing paper.