The Disconnect Between IT and the Business
April 30, 2024

Shayde Christian

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IT and the business are disconnected. Ask the business what IT does and you might hear "they implement infrastructure, write software, and migrate things to cloud," and for some that might be the extent of their knowledge of IT. Similarly, IT might know that the business "markets and sells and develops product," but they may not know what those functions entail beyond the unit they serve the most.

The disconnect is understandable because individuals in IT and the business have different skills, training, education, and focus, but it is also surprising in that IT and the business are beyond symbiotic, they are inextricably interdependent. Both teams can take strategic steps to bridge the divide. The first step is atop the building block on which their relationship was founded: data.

Siloed Data and Communication

The common language spoken by IT and the business is data. If data is fragmented, there isn't much to say because departments will only be able to form an isolated, incomplete picture of the business landscape and marketplace. As organizations fail to share data, its value diminishes: valuable insights are difficult to generate and decision-making fails to advance business aims.

Centralizing data ecosystems is critical to break down the silo between IT and the business.

The business must survey a holistic view if they are to accelerate corporate performance, advance strategic goals, and improve customer experience; therefore, IT must aggregate and consolidate disparate data stores onto centralized data platforms, the first step to envision future success through the elusive "single pane of glass."

Industry leading companies leverage modern data architectures to affiliate data silos: data lakehouse, data fabric, and data mesh. Such designs facilitate the effective democratization of data for enterprise-grade insight generation while securing data and appropriately restricting its access. Enterprise data platforms also facilitate proper data governance and improvements in data availability, quality, and integrity. Better data means better decision making.

Disparate Systems and Tools

With aggregated, secure, governed data, IT and the business can foster a culture of collaboration.

Implementation of common systems and tools promotes real-time sharing of information and ideas. Digital transformation initiatives streamline business workflows and multiply actionable data. Investments in intuitive visualization and analytics tools make insights easier to spot.

In addition to fostering collaboration, silo busting, and improving business outcomes, the rallying of IT and the business around digital transformation will cultivate common ground. IT will develop business literacy, and they may feel less like order takers if they are offered a seat at the table. The business will increase data literacy, and they may develop an appreciation for technical complexities and thankless back-office demands.

Misaligned Goals and Objectives

Strong leadership is essential to establish and sustain effective collaboration. Of paramount importance is shared vision. Cross-functional leadership must communicate and align around corporate strategic goals. Everything IT does and delivers should be aligned to established business objectives, and IT should be empowered to decline any requests that are not.

As the business, IT effectiveness should be measured by their contribution to top line and bottom line growth and customer experience. Attribution can be difficult but not impossible. Such tight-knit alignment also strengthens accountability within the business as more effort is applied to estimating the ROI of technology requests before they are submitted to IT. Consequently, innovation will become more intentional, and the business will get more benefit from their shared services organizations.

Objectives alignment is a powerful way to repair the disconnect because it gets IT and the business speaking the same language.

What does the business do?

"They're improving customer experience and efficiency to increase top line growth 15% and profit margins 7%."

What is IT doing?

"Same thing."

Shayde Christian is Chief Data and Analytics Officer at Cloudera
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