Dimension Data > IT outsourcing > Let’s be frank – open talk can forge stronger bonds between IT and the business

Let’s be frank – open talk can forge stronger bonds between IT and the business

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Toni Hawken

Toni Hawken |Global Practice Director & Operations and Strategic Sourcing Consulting | Dimension Data

CIOs across the world are under continued pressure to optimise operations and reduce costs, but with this come demands and expectations from the business to create what it sees as real value.

With a risk of being deemed irrelevant as business units source their IT externally to realise the business outcomes that will help them succeed in a competitive market, CIOs need to change the culture of poor performance associated with IT in an operations support role.

But can IT divisions respond and innovate rapidly enough? Is ‘shadow IT’ the only answer to this all too common problem or can business and IT functions collaborate effectively?

Years of focusing on cost reduction has damaged the relationship between IT and the business, and promoted a reactive response to business needs rather than a proactive one to its future plans. With a perceived lack of understanding, and elements of suspicion and distrust bubbling just below the surface, is it possible to bring CIOs and the executive business leadership together and align their objectives?

The thought of an open and frank discussion between CIOs, IT leadership, and business leaders may raise worries about potential confrontational behaviour, but a structured framework can eliminate distrust and produce a productive, collaborative environment to understand concerns and drive business outcomes. But this can’t be a one-off exercise. For true alignment this must be a continual cycle, a joint journey.

However, reaching agreement and creating a roadmap for the evolution of IT aligned to business outcomes doesn’t guarantee its execution as the necessary resources and skills can still remain an issue.

Engaging with a partner that not only supports their business strategy, but is engaged in helping drive innovation is advantageous, but an innovation roadmap must be continually refined against business objectives to keep pace with the demands of consumers and competitors.

A strong relationship between business and IT instead of merely providing operations support can help the business become a more agile competitor in the wider market, and provide realised business value.

Find out more about Evolving the role of IT from operations support to business leadership