During my years in the IT industry I have seen very little progress towards the goal of I.T. and business alignment. Despite the fact that both sides accept the ever-increasing need for it, each side continues to accuse the other of not “getting it”.
The I.T. industry as a whole is getting better at doing what it does but still it struggles to improve its reputation in the business community. I started thinking about why that is. The answer turned out to be relatively simple. With a few exceptions, I.T. continually fails to live up to its potential of being a source of competitive advantage and having a positive impact on the bottom line.
As an industry we have positioned ourselves in a no-win situation. We can continue to do things better, cheaper and faster – but it will never be good, cheap or fast enough. We will always be a ‘cost of doing business’. Unless we reposition ourselves.
My premise is simple – true ‘business-I.T. alignment’ will not be possible until I.T. has a positive impact on the bottom line. And I don’t mean a ‘smaller negative impact’. I mean a positive impact.
Nobody ever talks about alignment between sales and marketing for example. Although they are distinct functions they are so closely aligned that people often talk about them as being one and the same. The reason for this close relationship is simple: they depend on each other. They cooperate to each ones mutual benefit. The ultimate benefit being money – profits, pay packets and bonuses.
A similar relationship doesn’t exist between business and I.T. Sure, both sides need each other but the relationship can’t be characterised as symbiotic – as it is in the case of sales and marketing.
The irony is that I.T will only have a positive impact on the bottom line if it aligns itself with the business, but at the same time this alignment won’t happen until I.T. has a positive impact on the bottom line. The classic catch 22. But we have to start somewhere. Small wins and incremental steps will build momentum.
After all, when all is said and done…
I.T. has to be about the bottom line.