IT Organzations Have Their Hands Full

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The impact of this month’s theme, “Using Technology to Power-up Customer Management,” on IT organizations is not trivial. While it’s all well and good to plan a CRM technology “ecosystem” (a reference architecture to us technologists), the fact remains that CRM is just one of many priorities challenging the IT agenda. Indeed CRM is a challenge, but it’s not the biggest challenge in IT today. That award goes to the general category called “the business value of IT.”

Among other trends, limited financial resources has put IT organizations in the interesting position of having to demonstrate they provide “business value” to the enterprise at large. I find this fascinating because I truly believe that not every IT initiative has measurable, direct business value. Now don’t get me wrong – I can persuasively argue both sides of this conversation and convince you that: (1) without direct business enablement, a particular technology initiative should not be on the IT docket; AND (2) some technology projects must be done simply because they must be done – regardless of direct business support. Much like laying fiber or launching satellites, infrastructure initiatives are required to just run the business and keep the lights on. (And no, I’m going to go into the circular argument that says there’s ‘business value’ in keeping the lights on….) Architecture initiatives are the same: there’s really no direct business value in enterprise architecture, but it just needs to be done.

But I digress. The point I’d like you to take away is this: post-modern IT organizations are forced to compete for scarce resources by continuously demonstrating their business value. I find that CIOs who fancy themselves as business people tend to subscribe to widely held best practices focused on supporting the business. However I think that truly business-centered CIOs must recognize and begin to implement future best practices to truly make them business-centered.

Current IT Best Practices / Future IT Best Practices
o Partner with “the business” / IT in an integral part of “the business”
o Run IT like a business / Run the business with IT
o Optimize the IT technology portfolio / Optimize the technology-enabled business portfolio
o Implement IT strategic planning / Bring IT to the business planning table
o Address loss of control by self-sufficient lines of business/ Address business value of IT integral to lines of business
o Do more with less / Do better with less
o All while remaining agile, managing costs and enhancing flexibility/ All while remaining agile, managing costs and enhancing flexibility

Do you see the nuance? What do you think? Do you agree that IT organizations have their hands full just staying in front of the trends?

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