Business enterprises of all sizes are realizing the competitive advantages of integrating information technology (IT) to accelerate decision-making, gain efficiencies, and reduce costs.
Aligning technology strategies with business goals delivers significant benefits. However, there are cultural and operational barriers to integration, and overcoming those obstacles drives demand for professionals with advanced expertise in business operations and technology.
“Although business and IT teams have vastly different roles and purposes, they ultimately share one underlying objective: to offer a seamless and satisfying customer experience that has a positive impact on business outcomes,” according to AppDynamics, a division of Cisco.
What Are the Benefits of Integrating IT and Business?
Before businesses started breaking down the silos that kept IT apart from business operations, technical teams held the reins on innovation. Their relationships with technology providers and in-depth knowledge positioned them as organizational change agents.
Plug-and-play solutions such as cloud computing enable business operations to make informed decisions about structuring the flow of information. As a result, IT has assumed a partnership role with operations to squeeze more value out of technology and create competitive advantages.
Those advantages, according to Chron, include:
- Accelerating internal communication: Aligning IT technical capabilities with business goals ensures that decision-makers from the C-suite to the factory floor see the same information, so everybody is “on the same” page.
- Improving workplace efficiency: The collaborative relationship ensures an optimized IT solution that supports streamlining workflows identified by operations managers. For instance, an IT solution that provides front-line employees with automated, self-serve access to data increases productivity.
- Gaining efficiencies that reduce costs: Aligning IT infrastructure to business goals enables companies to identify and automate redundant or repetitive operations. Companies also realize advantages by migrating high-cost functions into an online environment and cloud computing.
“Business strategy & IT must go hand in hand. When IT aligns with business strategies, companies can leverage IT effectively to achieve business objectives such as growing market share, increasing productivity, higher profitability, and more,” according to Force Intellect, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) provider.
How Do Businesses Align IT Strategies With Business Goals?
Aligning the strategies aims to alleviate two all-too-common situations in the modern, data-driven enterprise: IT leaders do not know if technology solutions are resolving business issues, and business leaders wonder if IT is detached from enterprise needs and requirements.
“Fortunately, there are proven methods that enable IT leaders to gain a clear understanding of the IT-business relationship,” CIO says, some of which include:
Setting and monitoring performance metrics: Service downtime, help desk performance, and time spent on upgrades and patches are standard IT key performance indicators (KPIs). In a collaborative environment, IT should also have access to business KPIs to determine how well its solutions support business strategies.
Surveying internal clients to gain business insights: Traditional IT surveys typically sought input on technology and service support, such as help desk responsiveness, system availability and data security. However, to align with business strategies, IT surveys should also be designed to discover the overall business vision, priorities and required technical support.
Conducting continuous assessments: An ongoing evaluation of the alignment is an open-ended operation. Optimization is a process, not a goal, and enterprise-wide conversations are critical to determining if the collaboration is effective and can be improved. The constant dialogue enables IT to proactively identify and solve situations instead of reacting to avoidable problems.
These steps attempt to overcome the central challenge of alignment, bridging the knowledge, skills, and communication gaps that remain from the era of business siloes.
Who Bridges the Gaps Between IT and Business?
Critical roles in alignment include policymakers such as chief information and technology officers, project managers, software and network developers, and security analysts.
Professionals can acquire the combined expertise to lead alignment projects in Emporia State University’s online Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) Dual Degree program. This program gives professionals an advantage in the competition for employment and promotion in both the technology and business spaces.
Learn more about Emporia State University’s online MSIT and MBA dual degree program.