Technology, IT Performance

Will IT ever get its due at the business table?

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Despite Herculean efforts to blend almost seamlessly into the business environment, IT is still perceived by business executives largely as a cost center and service provider -- according to CIOs. ECF editorial director Bill Laberis

Tags: CIO IT
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Jerry Bishop 100 Points | Thu, 02/02/2012 - 18:41

I am constantly telling my wife how awesome I am and just how lucky she is to have me as a husband. I think my arguments are pretty compelling since I can give her plenty of examples of why I am still quite a catch.

But the she doesn't seem to appreciate me telling her about my awesomeness. In fact, and if I am being particularly persistent, she counters my sales pitch on why she should allow me to be more involved in the decisions she makes with some embarrassing examples of when that didn't workout so well.

Who's right? Is awesomeness one of those things, like beauty, that is in the eye of the beholder? Or is awesomeness something that can be judged with an objective universal measure?

Of course I know my wife is right...and know theselittle life lessons have an applicationinot the whole stategic CIO debate and my views on the future of IT.  

Paul Calento 255 Points | Thu, 02/02/2012 - 15:22

I think Joel Dobbs says it best, "Do your homework". Part of the reason for the perception of IT (by some) is the perspective CIOs are bring to the role. Thinking and acting big picture are two different things.

--Paul Calento

(note: I work on projects sponsored by and HP)

Doug Goddard 123 Points | Thu, 02/02/2012 - 00:48

Part of the problem is IT doesn't speak the language of business, the way a CFO does, and most IT departments do a very poor job of demonstrating the economic value of IT assets and IT services, which would go a long way toward aligning IT with corproate strategy. The profile of IT would be raised significantly if IT simply adopted those aspects of IT governance which focus on financial analysis and management. Then IT wouldn't need a CFO as a mediator to try and translate the economic and strategic value of IT to C-level executives, because they could do it themselves. An even stronger case can be made if they put in governance systems that support the economic value arguments with empirical evidence, such as activity based accounting systems. IT is it's own worse enemy when it fails to speak the langauge business executives understand.

John Dodge 1535 Points | Thu, 02/02/2012 - 16:57

Hi Doug,

We had a robust discussion on this very topic last March.

Is there a language barrier between IT and the rest of the business?




Doug Goddard 123 Points | Thu, 02/02/2012 - 19:52

Thanks for the link John. I love this topic. In fact, these are the issues I make my living at. My work involves automating the processes associated with ITIL Service Strategy, which is about aligning IT with corporate strategy. One of the most effective ways to demonstrate the economic value of IT, in my mind, is to construct a service portfolio, with a very detailed TCO that is mapped to the consumption and revenue points in the corproate heirarchy, the finer grain the better, but lines of business are a minimum requirement. Then one manages that portfolio like it was a portfolio of stock investments, getting out of poor performing investments and into those that offer a higher ROI. ROI is a much better measurement for IT because it allows the conversation to move away from being mainly about driving out operational cost reductions into more innovative pursuits. Costs are relative in an ROI context. It also means IT is in the revenue discussion, not just cost. There will be politics around the revenue recognition ratios but at least IT is now in the corproate strategy conversation.

The problem in IT is the old saying that the cobbler's children are the last to have shoes. IT doesn't spend enough on it's own PR which is unfortunate because there is technology now that makes things like activity based accounting much cheaper to implement.