Both the business and the IT organization agree that a tighter partnership is needed to advance the technology goals of the company. So why isn't it happening?
A survey by McKinsey Global highlights the various roles executives see IT playing in their organizations; one of either a true partner who has an active part in helping shape business strategies, a technology consultant who is called upon only when needed, or as simply a supplier of services who is expected to keep the lights on and the costs down. And though most of the executives surveyed believe that the role of a true partner is in the best interest of the business, few say that partnership is effectively happening.
The survey compiled the responses of 709 CXOs, with 40% representing the IT function and the other 60% focusing on other areas of the business.
The survey goes on to outline 10 different areas in which positive impacts can be seen by creating a stronger partnership between IT and the business. Those who responded say businesses having partnership-like relations with IT are 3.43 times more likely to "completely or very effectively" implement bottom-up innovation than companies without that sort of relationship. In addition, the results suggest that the inclusion of IT into bigger picture strategic planning of the company are able to cultivate a healthier IT culture overall. In turn, leading to the improved delivery of core services, quicker turn around on digital initiatives and a riper breeding ground for new business technology solutions overall.
So why isn't this partnership between the business and IT occurring? Most respondents to the McKinsey survey cited shortcomings of the model in which IT operates. This is followed closely by a lack of clarity in communication of IT's priorities and role within the organization. While other factors were reported, these two breakdowns are paramount in the creation of a stronger, healthy business/IT relation.
The study seems to keep these implications within the IT organization itself, whereas IT leadership and team management are solely responsible for the failings. This may be the case, but it would be hard not to find at least some fault with the larger business entity and its collective stakeholders for not recognizing the issues and insisting on a more cohesive way to capitalize on its technology resources.
Whether it's existing IT leadership which is struggling to align function and purpose within its own ranks, or a failure of the C-Suite to recognize the disconnect and adjust strategy to be more inclusive of its technology apparatus, the survey makes it clear that there's much more potential possible when business meets IT as a partner.