The ability to connect technology investments to business strategy and business outcomes has always been a critical factor determining a CIO’s success.
Yet this connection, often referred to as alignment, remains elusive for the vast majority of CIOs.
While most IT groups broadly align with the business, only 21 per cent describe IT as highly-aligned and just 4 per cent identify IT as fully-integrated into the business.
The pain of not just achieving alignment, but also maintaining alignment over time is on the rise.
You need only to consider the complexities of untangling IT systems in the face of increasing corporate restructuring, accelerating changes in consumer preferences, and ongoing financial uncertainty to realize that the traditional process of developing a standalone IT strategic plan aligned with business strategy is not enough.
The CIO needs to be part of the business strategy as it is being developed.
In fact, we would argue there should not be a standalone IT strategic plan at all. It must be a business strategic plan with technology components embedded in it.
Over time, successful CIOs will play a vital role in shaping business strategy, defining the technology direction for the organization, and demonstrating their business acumen to manage demand and marshal scarce resources.
To get there, CIOs need access to the tools, insights, data, and trusted advisors that will help them sense and respond to changes in the business environment.
A key ingredient in the development and execution of the strategic planning process is finding and using appropriate data and insights and this often means data that lives outside of IT.
Thinking broadly, this includes data on consumer behaviors, business executive priorities, and the impact of technology on workforce productivity.
Without these critical inputs to the front end of the planning process, CIOs will continue to struggle to justify and defend budgets using traditional comparative staffing and cost benchmarking data alone.