CIOs are frequently told that IT must be aligned with the business, and that alignment is primarily an issue of strong IT governance. Over-reliance on IT governance, on the other hand, turns IT into a suffocating, choking bureaucracy, rather than a more productive company. As a result, CIOs must focus on integrating IT into the business rather than IT-business integration.
True organizational integration is simpler to recommend than to implement. IT governance isn’t going to cut it since governance processes and structures are designed to keep IT isolated from the rest of the company.
It’s not that IT governance isn’t important. It’s that IT governance should be viewed as a safety net. The relationship between IT and the rest of the company serves as lane markers and street signs, directing everyone to where they need to go and how to get there without losing track.
As a result, rethinking IT’s relationship with the rest of the company, as well as effectively managing it, is critical to establishing an IT organization that is fit for the modern enterprise.
For IT to integrate with the rest of the company, it’s critical to replace the internal customer misconceptions with a vocabulary that emphasizes concepts like collaboration and partnership, as well as discussions focused on enhancing business process effectiveness rather than application deployment. It’s also critical to focus on the value that IT and its business partners can jointly develop and provide to the company’s Real Paying Customers.
When CIOs do that, IT governance, with all of its rulebooks, committees, and protocols, will take a back seat to the reimagined, trust-based relationships that are the trademark of a IT business integration.
IT’s relationship with the business needs to be redefined
Only half the battle is won by redefinition. It alters the nature of the relationship, but the quality and strength of the relationship is far more important.
Changing processes, procedures, and approaches is required to build trust. It necessitates alterations to the technical architecture at all levels and interdependencies. Most importantly, it necessitates a shift in any component that promotes or hinders top-tier human performance.
CIOs have the ability and responsibility to reshape IT’s relationship with the rest of the company. CIOs can and should make it abundantly clear that IT is a partner, peer, and collaborator with everyone in the organization who uses data to accomplish their job, which is to say, everyone in the organization.
But how do they make this a reality? That must be everyone’s duty in the IT department — not as an afterthought to their day jobs, but as an integral part of how they approach their day jobs.
Integrating IT into business strategy is important
There’s still one more area of IT that’s part of the business: offering business strategy leadership. Even “aligned IT” is heavily involved in strategic business planning. Given that IT is frequently the bottleneck when it comes to converting strategic intent into a workable strategy, it has to be.
New capabilities offered or enabled by information technology developments are the most significant competitive risks and opportunities in today’s world.
Moreover, while IT management and employees focus on integrating with the rest of the company, CIOs must focus on integrating with the executive leadership team (ELT) and also its strategic planning process.