IT and Business Alignment

Alignment of IT and business seems to be the dominant strategy among the region's enterprises as a result of the economic crisis

Tags: IDC Middle East and AfricaIT strategyInvestmentUnited Arab Emirates
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IT and Business Alignment (IDC)
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By  Jyoti Lalchandani Published  October 3, 2009

Strategy and budgets are two key topics that came up during my various conversations with CIO's from across the MEA region in the past 12-15 months. While most enterprises have not changed their 'overall' plan as a result of the crisis, alignment of IT and business seems to be the dominant strategy.

This said, there is a strong focus on cost cutting and short-term 'wins' - however this is not their main strategy. Organisations are demanding strong and well-documented business cases for their IT solutions, and are also taking the businesses' need for adaptability and flexibility plus business process efficiency as the starting point for discussions about how IT can enable this agenda before deciding on investments.

ICT providers therefore will need to strike the balance between adding value to clients by helping to create flexibility and agility in IT and business, while providing strong business outcomes, and providing short-term cost reductions through efficiency gains.

The importance of business and IT alignment has never been greater. Although the economy is expected to recover in 2010, the need for organizations to continue evolving products and services while improving operating efficiency will remain a central leadership challenge. For IT leaders, the ability to rapidly correlate IT project spending with critical business priorities is essential. The trouble with most technology adoption plans is that they do not indicate what the business value is, and what strategic or tactical business benefit the organization is planning to achieve. The simple matter is that your IT plan needs to have a strong business metric, not only an IT related metric that examines delivery of application in isolation.

While IT-business alignment may in the future be the natural state in which we operate, it doesn't mean that it's easy to achieve. Being close to the business means being close to your customer, and this is critically important to being able to deliver what the company needs. This happens in big ways, like having yearly IT strategic plans approved by a board of business leaders; and it happens in small ways, like having each IT person sit close to the business teams he works with on a day-to-day basis. This enables IT colleagues at every level to be conversant in the explicitly stated needs of the business and to have insights into latent or unstated needs as well. Furthermore, being able to explain how and where IT is adding value is a critical but frequently under appreciated skill.

IDC believes that IT will have to reorganize in the coming years, as:

  • - IT performance will increasingly be tied to business performance
  • - Infrastructure money will come from consolidation
  • - New project money will come from business payback
  • - IT and business department boundaries will become porous

Jyoti Lalchandani is vice president and regional managing director of IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey.

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