Having attended many CIO conferences, it is quite common for someone to announce that we, the IT function are the business and therefore why talk about business-IT alignment or entwinement.
The IT function is an integral part of the business, but what it is not part of, is the user community which it exists to serve.
Slowly this is extending to partnering with the users both operationally and strategically. The question is how we accelerate the move to partnership.
If you cannot deliver the basic lights-on service then forget any chance of creating a partnership.
And if your personal brand communication around your organisation is not effective, then you are likely to be seen as delivering a bad service, even when technically, you are living up to the service level agreement.
Those two elements are key to putting a partnership with the rest of the business on a sound foundation.
The next step is to create an information and process board (IPB).
There must be no reference to IT, as new technology is the enabler not the outcome, and you should want to be associated with results not just activity.
Find senior executives with a keen interest in information and business process. Limit the invite to those who are pre-disposed to new technologies; evangelists not technophobes.
Let’s imagine that you have the chief marketing officer, chief finance officer and chief HR officer on board, the next step is to identify their process and information requirements for the next 8 quarters.
Once a set of requirements is gathered, partition these into top-line (value creation) and bottom-line (cost management) requirements.
Now divide both of these into grow-the-business (innovation) and run-the-business (service) subsets.
Now restructure your IT function as follows:
- Separate run-the-business from grow-the-business activities. In fact you might want to create an innovation centre to house the latter
- Appoint senior members of your team to face-off the members of your board, such as head of marketing information and process. They will take day-to-day responsibility for meeting the needs of each IPB member
Each of your IP heads will preside over a two-by-two matrix with cost and value on one axis and service and innovation on the other. This should create four budgets rather than one for each head.