IT alignment to business still a pressing issue

Von Siobhan McBride

At least seven years has passed since IT and business alignment first became a CIO priority and it is still being tackled today, according to Meta Group Inc. research director Kevin McIsaac.

IT is still trying to get it right and as a result is losing the battle to win the support of CEOs and CFOs.

Likening the IT organization to Cityrail, McIsaac said IT works most of the time and does try to be on time.

"But are customers really happy? No. We don"t know what should be done to improve it, but we like to complain a lot anyway," he said. "Have you ever wondered why a CEO comes up to you and says "we want to implement Siebel" and you think to yourself "I thought it was my job to pick the technology"?"

"The point is these CEOs have been convinced by exquisitely trained salespeople, in fact, better trained to sell the value of the technology than you are," he said

Speaking at a BMC Software Forum held in Sydney last week, experts tackled the issues surrounding IT and business alignment and the lack of faith business executives have in technology.

Although IT and business operations are now inseparable, BMC Software"s CEO and president Bob Beauchamp said IT is suffering from a lack of credibility.

"Expectations of IT are expanding to include managing business services, so in the end IT is expected to create demonstrable business value," Beauchamp said, adding that CFO involvement in this process is making it even more complicated. "A lot of people are coming to us and saying "help me connect this IT to the business, because otherwise I"m not going to get any funding"," Beauchamp said.

"This is the mentality of today and vendors and IT organizations are suffering from this lack of confidence from CEOs and CFOs."

But Beauchamp said it wasn"t just an alignment problem; most organizations lack the right tools to extend reach within the business.

"They"re not designed to show the state of the enterprise, which is now how everyone is expected to manage their IT outfit," Beauchamp said. "But whether you go with BSM (business service management) or not, it all comes down to how you manage infrastructure."

Independent executive advisor and author Malcolm Fry, who also spoke at the forum, put it in the simplest terms. "If you don"t understand the nature of the business, how can you align with it?" Fry said. "The key to success is understanding the different levels in your business and knowing how you can get involved in these levels."