Technology has long been considered a necessary feature in business models. Though its strategic value has been lacking, especially when the biggest, recent developments – like cloud computing and big data analysis - have focused less on how IT can be used to innovate the organisation and more on the role of technology professionals in ensuring these services are readily available. It’s unsurprising that aligning business objectives and IT has been a slow climb; despite the increasing evidence that technology is essential to corporate strategy.
The responsibility lies with the chief information officer (CIO) who understands the business value of IT as more than a mere money drain.
How Much Does IT Support Core Business?
IT is not traditionally displayed front-and-centre when companies measure aspects of their business driving core value. Like everything else, technology plays a supporting role – there to widen the scope of the company’s products or services, the core business – unless of course the core business is IT.
If you produce antennas, you focus on the manufacture of boards with the latest components; investment firms take care the quantity of bonds they can sell (and new investors), while newspapers work on selling the latest stories to grip their readers.
Notice something? All of these businesses rely on, and would struggle to compete without technology. Though IT is often hastily relegated as a background service – there only to keep the company relevant. An elusive cost centre offset by revenue.
As a CEO, or CFO – the key measurements of true business value are along the lines of: how well it increases value; whether it lowers costs; how it boosts productivity; how it can help the company stand out from the competition; and whether the clients are more and more satisfied with services or products.
These are fundamentals. And the right IT systems are capable of providing cost-effective business support that contributes to their success.
What must be done? To bring the CIOs expertise in line with the other departments.
A more ambitious question is perhaps: how is the CIO – or executive technician – proving the value of IT and winning the trust of the C-suite?
The answer might surprise you… They already are.
According to Gartner in 2017, almost 20% of companies have already invested in tools capable of monitoring business-relevant metrics. By 2021, it predicts that this number will be as high as 60%.
The biggest challenge is up to those in charge of providing a competitive IT strategy – requiring guidance from technicians to manage and lead the way it transforms the business (something we do at Architechs).
If you’re beginning your IT journey, Gartner has listed several metrics that can help businesses align the role of technology in boosting business value.
Unsurprisingly, data insights are valuable assets that are made more effective with technology. Real-time insights are provided into the end-user perspective. Data gathered consensually from end-users reveals how they interact with technology on a daily basis and how it encourages – or alienates – them, painting clear and vivid pictures of whothe end-customer is, and what aspects of business value overlap by their interaction with technology.
In short, access to real-time, consensually given data is fed back, helps businesses get closer to customers, describes their motivations, frustrations and consequentially provides proof of value for IT in business.
According to Gartner’s report, “Historically, the focus was on starting from the ground up — at the infrastructure ‘hardware level’ of servers, storage and networks — then building up from there. What this starting point failed to deliver was business relevance. Due to the changing nature of infrastructure and application architecture, it no longer makes sense to begin data collection efforts from a perspective that is unlikely to provide insight into the end user’s experience.”
Now You’re Talking My Language
Another way that IT can better align itself with business objectives is how it is articulated in the boardroom.
There is more than one way to express a point. Though, up till now, IT has prided itself on ‘tech-speak’ that has often left other members of the business scratching their heads in frustration.
CIOs (with the support of IT solutions providers like Architechs) can lessen the static by dismissing jargon, and explaining plainly how technology can bring bottom-line business value.
As IT continues becoming a more widely invested asset, it helps to have a team, internally or externally, that is willing to think of long-term strategies and present them with the self-confidence of a sales executive. To co-operate – and to clearly express the value of IT across departments – will be essential in aligning business and IT objectives.
Finely Tuning The Necessity of IT
There are other ways, of course. Along with the metrics – and a mature outlook from your experts in IT – services from the likes of Architechs focuses 100% on how technology can be challenged to benefit a business, while working closely alongside your current IT professionals, and/or CIO.
Understanding how important it is for the business and IT to properly align, you can trust us to give honest advice that results in leadership across the technology department, freeing up time for them to develop their relationships across the business, and feed into your business value.