I.T. Has to be About the Bottom Line

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.

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2 Responses to I.T. Has to be About the Bottom Line

  1. E.A. Anon says:

    My take on the misalignment of IT and the Business is this, and it’s really very, very simple:

    Business changes, often quite rapidly (relatively speaking). IT changes much more slowly, because it’s complex to change applications, platforms, artchitectures etc.

    So, over time, however well aligned IT and the Business was, say in 1968, by 2008 there will be quite a large mis-alignment, because the business will have moved and IT will have lagged behind.

    The reason you have seen little progress, and the reason there will continue to be little progress, is because IT is just as hard to change today as it was 40 years ago. Even with all the new whizz bang technology, change is no simpler. In fact IT change may be even harder today. So, the misaligment will continue.

  2. rafcammarano says:

    Your comment got me thinking. I’m not convinced that the PACE of change is the cause of the misalignment. I will explain my reasoning for this conclusion in the next few posts, starting with this one: https://rafcammarano.wordpress.com/2008/06/26/reasons-for-it-business-misalignment-part-1/

    Thanks for the comments – the last few have been interesting. You’ve got lots to say so I’d encourage you to get on a soapbox and start a blog. Why not – everyone else has!

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