A recent PwC pulse study of US businesses has found that executives are starting to move beyond recession fears to focus on reinvention with 27% wanting to embed new technologies in their business model. However, 88% say that achieving measurable value from new technology is a challenge. Having previously assessed the risk of failure of digital transformation to be 84%, Forbes says it’s not tech that’s the problem, citing lack of alignment to business outcomes as number one in a list of reasons.
Align IT with business goals for success
To protect digital investments and ensure a successful transformation, it is critically important for IT to align with business goals. Developing or deploying digital tools without a strong business case is a recipe for disaster. If you’re deploying something the business hasn’t asked for, doesn’t need, or doesn’t understand, then it’s likely to be rejected, resulting in wasted time and spend.
While you may believe you know what the goals of the business are, each leader will have a slightly different perspective and it’s vital to understand all of them. The Chief Financial Officer (CFO), for example, may want to implement technology that supports cost optimization. The Chief Information and Security Officer (CISO) may want to leverage observability tools and other technology to monitor cybersecurity risks and identify vulnerabilities, whereas a Chief Experience Officer may want to use observability to understand how customers and employees are experiencing systems and services. The Chief Compliance Officer will want to uncover where the company could be risking regulatory compliance.
IT is best placed to help all leaders to achieve their objectives. With a cohesive understanding of business goals and a wealth of data at their fingertips, IT can advise on technology that can be deployed to meet the needs of many groups. This will help to optimize spend and reduce the complexity that comes with implementing myriad disparate tools, as well as the shortcuts required to swiftly implement new solutions for requests appearing at the last minute, inevitably leading to technical debt.
The Risks of Haphazard Digital Transformation
IT is all too aware of the impact tech debt has on the business. In 2020 there was no choice but to rapidly deploy new digital tools to allow employees to work remotely and customers to interact with the business in new ways. One study has found that while businesses know tech debt has increased, 94% of respondents felt it was important to help them launch products or services faster. But shortcuts in development have long-term implications for any company, and 69% of respondents feared tech debt would slow down their transformation. But it can also adversely impact costs, system performance, and the user experience.
Tech debt isn’t the only issue if IT doesn’t align with business goals though. As previously mentioned, without a clear overview of business needs, IT will be in reactive mode, developing or investing in tools and technology that meet the needs of a small part of the organization. With greater understanding, they could not only optimize cost by deploying a different solution that would meet the needs of more users and departments, they could avoid growing IT complexity as well as user frustration with the amount of touchpoints and tools they need to manage their jobs.
Being in reactive mode will have implications for security too. If IT is overwhelmed by requests and can’t meet business deadlines for new tools, the business will likely take things into their own hands. Shadow IT is already rife within companies and if IT isn’t aware of new digital technologies – including third-party vendor systems and applications – being introduced to automate operations, make buildings smarter, or enhance the customer experience then it can’t protect them. Business teams don’t have the experience of managing multiple vendor technology updates and patches, and cyber criminals are adept at finding vulnerabilities and launching attacks that spread rapidly through complex system dependencies.
By aligning with business teams to understand goals, IT can not only invest in technology that meets the needs of more teams, but they can also advise on how different leaders can use data generated within the company to achieve their goals. This will in turn, allow IT to garner more support from the business, and potentially give IT a seat at the table early on in business transformation discussions, supporting the .
Of course, there will be challenges along the way, but they are not impossible to overcome.
The challenges of aligning IT with business goals:
The language barrier: Break down communication barriers and bridge the gaps between tech and non-tech teams, by recruiting new IT team members from within the business or those who have experience of working outside IT and assigning them to business teams where appropriate.
Finding ways to say no positively: While you’ll always have to fight fires as business goals shift, some requests will come out of left field and may not be a good fit for the business. By aligning IT with business goals on an ongoing basis, you can say no in a positive way – providing technical insights on how you are helping the team achieve their overall goal and explaining why that will lead to a better outcome than focusing on short-term needs.
Managing Tech Debt: If tech debt is already rife in your IT estate, it could take time to deploy new digital technology and your teams will need to both understand the old technologies and the workarounds needed to keep data safe and ensure systems work together and that will take more time.
Knowing that current IT workload isn’t going anywhere: That means ramping up headcount or finding new ways to get things done with your current staff.
Access data intelligently using automation
In one of its worldwide IT spending report this earlier this year, Gartner suggested software spend would continue to rise to ‘capture competitive advantages through increased productivity, automation, and other software-driven transformation initiatives’. IT can also access automation to manage an increased workload using a digital platform conductor (DPC). Already highlighted as transformational in six Gartner hype cycles, a DPC will allow IT teams to leverage automation to address tech debt, assist the introduction of new technologies and build awareness to encourage adoption, to augment observability tools and identify and address safety and compliance vulnerabilities, such as shadow IT, and to report on progress and show how IT is supporting every aspect of the business.
Book a demo with ReadyWorks to understand how you can use a DPC to help your IT teams align with all your leaders’ priorities and achieve complex business goals.