15 Ways to Bridge the Gap Between IT and Business
November 19, 2012

We have been talking about this problem for years - the gap between IT and Business. All the experts have advised that bridging this gap should be a high priority for any company, and yet we still see this problem persisting today.

The results of a new CA Technologies study Why IT Needs to Lead Now: The Innovation Imperative suggest that a disconnect between IT and Business executives is the reason for missed opportunities to drive revenue, grow market share, increase speed to market and improve customer satisfaction.

Of the 800 global business and IT executives surveyed, 34 percent of the Business respondents characterize their relationship with IT as combative, distrustful or siloed, and 31 percent on the IT side agree with that assessment.

Earlier this year, a survey conducted by Quocirca for Compuware found that nearly half of CIOs are not confident in their IT organization's ability to meet increased user expectations this year.

“IT no longer provides a break-fix service, IT is driving business growth and it is now part of corporations’ DNA. But why is it that Business leaders still perceive IT as a necessary evil and not a strategic partner?” asks Linh Ho, OpTier VP of Marketing.

This list cannot answer that question, but it attempts to resolve the next question: Where do we go from here?

Jimmy Augustine, Product Marketing Lead for HP Application Performance Management, said it best: “As an IT industry, we should force bridging the IT and Business gap. Why? The two should be one, like peanut butter and jelly. The right hand should know what the left hand is thinking and vice versa.”

The following is a catalog of suggestions from across the APM industry on how to bring IT and Business closer together:

1. Open Dialog

Dialog is key. Once IT has found a more effective way to communicate and plan with their Business peers, they are already half-way there.
Dennis Drogseth
VP at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA)

2. Find a Common Language and Set Common Objectives

Business requirements dictate the underlying technology needed to support it. IT needs to work closely with the Business to define a common set of objectives and definitions of how success is measured.
Belinda Yung-Rubke
Director of Field Marketing at Visual Network Systems

The major thing is, let’s agree on the business-level metrics for performance that IT needs to support. The crudest one is availability, with performance being in there, but it also could be cost savings or customer satisfaction. IT and the Business need to have a common language about the value of performance.
Sherman Wood
VP of Products, Precise

If you want IT or DevOps to be aligned with the Business, then everyone needs to speak the same language and be on the same page with priorities.
Stephen Burton
Tech Evangelist, AppDynamics

Both the Business and IT should be held accountable and forge tighter working relationships. There should be no surprises and IT should have a rolling 12 month “launch” plan that is shared, socialized and up to date for new app releases.
Jimmy Augustine
Product Marketing Lead for HP Application Performance Management

Click here to read Jimmy Augustine's blog: IT and Business Go Together Like Peanut Butter and Jelly

3. Adopt an Application-Centric View

By shifting away from a server versus resource availability view to an application-centric view of the world opens the dialog between Business and IT. To do so, organizations must ensure critical applications and business processes have the right management systems in place. This ensures service level agreements (SLAs) are met and priorities are in place when slowdowns or outages occur. When IT discusses the availability of applications and business processes, and ways to optimize performance, the Business is ready to listen.
Matthew Ellis
Vice President, Tivoli Service Availability & Performance Management, IBM

4. Eliminate Distrust

One way to bridge the gap between IT and Business is eliminating distrust between the two - the Business contingent questioning the ability of IT to deliver on its promise. When IT can say YES to demands from Business, it should deliver it with 100% confidence. When IT says NO, it should present a plan to transform that NO to YES. This is particularly true in the APM space where Business is constantly demanding very high availability and performance SLA on applications running critical business services. If IT truly wants to fulfill these SLAs and keep its promise to Business, then it must to take a preventive approach. Detect issues with application availability and performance early. Fix them quickly. Monitor for any other abnormal symptoms. Fix those. Deliver.
Ray Solnik
President, US Operations, Appnomic Systems

5. Understand Your Organization – People, Business and Technology

If I had one single piece of advice, it would be 'abhor the generic.' Don't look for a standard guidebook to tell you how to optimize to the business or organization you support. Leverage best-practice advice and the experience of others by all means, but take the time to understand the human, business and technology dimensions specific to your business model, your organization, and the key stakeholders on both sides of the fence.
Dennis Drogseth
VP at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA)

6. Focus on Business Impacts

Netuitive works with large enterprise retail customers increasingly interested in connecting and correlating the business analytics they use in stores with IT and application performance. In many cases, these organizations are having their IT folks meet with the business analysts (and their metrics) for the first time. If the database cluster supporting your point-of-sale system begins to act up, wouldn’t you want to know how this is impacting sales in real time? Having this insight increases the focus and sense of urgency in addressing the problem and really makes IT and the business work as a team. And in the end, this is what IT executives are striving for.
Graham Gillen
Product Marketing Director, Netuitive

IT organizations attempting to bridge the Business/IT Chasm should start by thinking in terms of business impacts first, rather than technologies and solutions, when communicating with line-of-business managers.
Steven Shalita
Vice President of Marketing, NetScout

IT needs to focus and prioritize on what matters for the Business, specifically the monitoring and management of business activity (transactions) that flow through mission-critical applications and impact end users.
Stephen Burton
Tech Evangelist, AppDynamics

A key component to bridging the gap between IT and Business is analytics-driven visibility. Lines of business need to see and understand the impact of IT to their bottom-line. Real-time visibility into key business performance indicators such as end user performance, resources consumed, service cost, lost revenue, cost of downtime, number of successful/failed transactions are crucial to bridge the IT and business gap. But, in the end, the Business needs to weigh the cost of service delivery against the value the service brings to the Business. This requires analytics that use clear service definitions, automated tracking of when and what resources are consumed by each service, and awareness of the cost impact when transactions fail or outages occur to link business decision points to the underlying technology.
Leslie Minnix-Wolfe
Senior Manager, Solutions MarketingBMC Software

Ultimately applications are deployed to support business processes and the users that participate in them. Effective APM must be able to measure the user experience and the performance of actual business processes. Only when this is the case does APM become an effective Business Service Management (BSM) tool. That said, it must provide the in-depth insight to enable IT staff to carry out IT service management (ITSM) quickly and effectively. When this is the case, more of their time is then freed up to focus on more strategic IT goals, which ultimately makes the overall business more competitive.
Bob Tarzey
Analyst and Director, Quocirca

7. Deploy Dashboards for the Business

Make sure your IT management platform provides a dashboard of meaningful metrics to your CxO and senior product managers. If your monitoring platform cannot provide a meaningful service oriented view using BSM (even for APM metrics), then you don't have the right tools to bridge the gap between.
Vikas Aggarwal
CEO, Zyrion

Implement management dashboards which IT and Business executives can access equally.
Jeffrey Kaplan
Managing Director of THINKstrategies and Founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace

This is really tricky, but working closely with development, and identifying the key IT and application metrics which are important to the business is critical. If this can be accomplished and that data is accessible or can be extracted from transactions a lot can be accomplished in terms of providing higher value to the IT customer.
Jonah Kowall
Research Director in Gartner's IT Operations Research Group

Your production application performance management system knows more than just how well a given application or set of transactions are performing; it knows about the performance of the business, too. Are you sharing these metrics with your non-IT executives? From a technology perspective, the Business probably just wants to know the application is performing and users are happy. But the APM system can also tell how many sales transactions were made or number of orders shipped: All information that’s very important to the Business side. By providing this information in real time and in an easy-to-read format will help IT more closely align and partner with the Business.
Jason Meserve
Senior Product Marketing Manager, CA Technologies

The best way to bridge the gap between IT and Business is for IT to show Business stakeholders what really matters to them. This means translating operational data into business information: via dashboards and service views, for example. Usually IT only hears from their users when something goes wrong - that's the wrong kind of attention. No one calls IT to say, thanks for making sure I got all my emails today. Smart planning and set up using management and analytics tools ahead of time, however, can make sure that Business stakeholders have visibility into service levels, application availability, and response times. All this paints the positive picture of what IT does every day to make sure the business runs smoothly.
Antonio Piraino
CTO at ScienceLogic

Work with an easy to understand language that the Business understands, and put the right measurements in place. Measure the right things that help the Business make decisions. Show the Business clearly what value IT brings. IT is not a black art.
Zubair Aleem
Managing Director of Quadnet Services

8. Focus on the Revenue Stream

IT and Business units can bridge the gap between them by jointly focusing on the enterprise strategic revenue stream, and not on managing and monitoring IT.
Kirk O'Connor
Senior Product Manager at Visual Network Systems

IT executives must be able to communicate in the language of the Business, which usually means the language of revenue and cost. Typically, the Business cares about two things related to IT: first, when IT services impact the ability to drive revenue, negatively or positively; and second, the desire to drive the cost of delivering IT services to the absolute minimum without compromising revenue. APM tools that deliver visibility into revenue-impacting problems allows IT to take preventative action, before the angry phone calls start and revenue is lost.
Molly Stamos
Director of Products, Boundary

9. Embrace the End-User-Experience

The argument that system monitoring is just a nice to have, and not really a core requirement for operational readiness, dissipates quickly when a critical application goes down with no warning. By embracing End-User-Experience (EUE) measurements as a key vehicle for demonstrating productivity, you build trust with your constituents and bridge the gap between IT and the Business. The Event Management and Incident Management processes provide a critical junction where APM and ITIL come together. The translation from APM to ITIL takes place in the event-to-incident flow and is the key for managing action, going red to green, and trending.
Larry Dragich
Director of Enterprise Application Services at the Auto Club Group

We talk about a gap between IT and Business like we're on opposite sides of some eternal battle, but we all have the same end goals (customer satisfaction). We just don't speak the same language, making it difficult to understand how each side measures success. Monitoring end user transactions is one way to establish a common bond that both sides can relate to, especially when the monitoring tool can show IT performance (from servers to applications) in the language of user transactions.
Chris Neal
CEO and Co-Founder, BlueStripe

10. Break Down IT Silos

Our customers have told us that silo'd data is a big problem for them. Countless hours are wasted trying to piece together a holistic view of what is happening from the infrastructure, application and business perspective. The gap between IT and Business can be bridged by getting all of this data into a single repository - and then creating different views of the data depending on a person's role within the organization. This way, everyone has a view of what matters the most to them.
Pamela Roussos
CMO, AppFirst

Business owners don’t like to hear “it isn’t me” while their revenue-producing applications are experiencing slowdowns or outages altogether. To bridge the gap between the Business and IT, APM solutions must enable collaboration between the technology component owners (database administrator, network administrator, virtual administrator, storage manager, application dev/ops, etc.). This means there must be a single truth, not ten different tools that each component owner uses to give them ammunition to respond, “it isn’t me,” on a war-room “blamestorming” call. IT needs to become more business savvy, with the right APM solution that shows the detailed end-user experience, and combines this with depth across the entire technology stack, so that the whole IT organization can collaboratively address issues and more effectively prioritize work efforts to be in better synch with the Business.
Scott Hollis
Director – Product Marketing for Quest Software (now part of Dell)

11. Take a Service-Centric Management Approach

Building a bridge between IT and Business starts with problem definition. Many times we can trace the gap between these functions to the fact that they both address different problems. How do the Business and IT functions know what are the assumed interdependencies between their respective goals? Unfortunately, they often have no way to relate these to show how successfully completing an IT goal supports the realization of a business goal. One way to make this work is to establish Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that define the business KPI and the IT metrics that are necessary to accomplish this.
Charley Rich
VP Product Management and Marketing, Nastel Technologies

Click here to read Charley Rich's blog: Building a Bridge Between IT and Business with SLAs

To align IT priorities to the Business, use the 80/20 rule. One easy way to do this is to group resources in dynamic service groups and report on SLA metrics and capacity by service group. This way, you can measure and prioritize how much time and resources are devoted to the business services that matter.
Jennifer Kuvlesky
Marketing Manager, SolarWinds

A key way to bridge the gap between IT and Business is implementation of a service-centric management approach to IT operations. It is helpful to remind ourselves that IT organizations exist to provide business services - whether to internal stakeholders or external customers - and that IT executives are responsible for maintaining availability of these services. That is what the Business side of the enterprise expects from their IT partners. In order to deliver and maintain high availability of business services, IT managers must understand the correct relationships among the plethora of hardware, software, application processes, storage, and networking gear that underpin the business service. New companies have recently emerged that can automate the discovery and service model creation process so that a business service can be discovered and mapped within hours, as compared with typical discovery and manual mapping approaches that can take months. Leveraging best of breed tools to achieve the availability and performance expectations that business executives have of IT is an important way to bridge the gap between IT and Business.
Ariel Gordon
VP of Products and Co-Founder, Neebula

A unified, service delivery-oriented strategy focuses on addressing the business requirements for availability, security and performance by delivering a holistic view of all of the interdependencies and operations of all components that are required to deliver data, voice and video services. This includes technology and executive-level insight and reporting that can be shared across multiple IT operational groups (IT Management, Network, Applications, UC and security) and business functions.
Steven Shalita
Vice President of Marketing, NetScout

The IT organization needs to continually improve their visibility in order to demonstrate value to the enterprise. According to a recent MetricNet study, the corporate IT spend for end user support is only 4% of the annual IT budget, while 84% of end users rate the Service Desk as very important to their overall IT satisfaction. In order to maximize value, IT needs to improve IT service delivery processes. The best way to drive improved IT service delivery is to streamline processes in 4 key areas using an ITIL-based ITSM solution: Service Desk, Self-Service, Change Management, and Asset Management. By using an out-of-the-box ITIL framework, IT organizations can quickly improve strategic processes that result in an improvement of overall IT satisfaction.
Seng Sun
CEO, SunView Software

12. Take the Lead into the Social Enterprise

Lead — don’t follow — the Business as social transforms the enterprise. Of the three huge changes transforming IT – cloud, mobile and social — cloud and mobile are pretty well understood. With social, it’s still early enough for IT to take a leadership role. How do you add social features to existing IT services? What are the KPIs and SLAs required for community and social applications? A great way to bridge the gap with the Business is to lead them into the Social Enterprise.
Russell Rothstein
Founder and CEO, IT Central Station

13. Improve App Design

The disconnect now is that users have higher expectations for business applications. They use Gmail and Facebook, so they know what a good interface looks like, and if you are not providing them with that, if you are not providing the same experience, they are going to be unhappy. IT needs to focus on the application and providing a comparable experience with the consumer applications. That is part of your application design. You have to make sure that you are building the app from a high usability perspective, and a high reliability and performance perspective as well. The tolerance for apps that don't open fast is really low. The tolerance for multiple clicks is really low. The answer is better design.
Jim Rapoza
Senior Research Analyst, Aberdeen Group

IT teams currently spend an average of 80 percent of their budget simply keeping things running while using the remaining 20 percent of their budget on IT innovation. APM solutions can help IT teams reverse this ratio. When thinking about the requirements for an APM solution, IT teams should think beyond simple troubleshooting — they should evaluate how a solution can help them streamline processes, enable collaboration, continually improve IT efficiency, consolidate their IT management toolset, support dynamic environments, and proactively address capacity and performance needs. The end goal is to move IT operations from a static model characterized by inflexibility and high cost to one that is agile and responsive to the changing needs of the Business.
Jesse Rothstein
CEO and Co-Founder, ExtraHop

14. Business Must Be Forward Thinking

Business leaders need to realize they have an untapped asset (IT) in the company that could be their best friend — help them demonstrate stakeholders’ value, business profit and growth, competitive advantage, and more. Particularly with the advent of Big Data Analytics which gives Business and IT leaders relevant information about their clients behavior, revenue-generating business transactions, mission-critical applications — this is information that binds Business and IT. While IT still has some work to do to demonstrate value in monitoring investments such as APM, BSM or ITSM technologies, Business leaders also need to be forward thinking and proactively leverage IT as a competitive advantage.
Linh Ho
VP of Corporate Marketing, OpTier

15. Deploy the Right APM Tool

Bridging the gap between IT and Business is all about having the right kind of APM system in place. Such a system should deliver an integrated environment across all the stakeholders in application performance — developers, testers (QA), operations and line of business executives — to eliminate time spent correlating between different tools and to enable a common language of understanding. What applications are performing poorly? Why and whose problem is it? What's the impact on conversions? This APM system must be business aware, connecting IT to line of business by showing, for example, how IT is impacting the end- user experience and revenue. In addition, the system must be application-centric as opposed to component-centric, offering an overall view into how vital applications as a whole are performing, and offer actionable information for various stakeholders.
Steve Tack
VP of Product Management for Compuware's APM Business

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