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January 21, 2019 | 11:32 AM
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24.09.2013CEO of Unisys Provides Four Tips to Align IT And Business Teams

Alignment between IT and the rest of the business is more critical today than any moment in history.


Jacob Morgan, Forbes.com

Alignment between IT and the rest of the business is more critical today than any moment in history. While we’ve seen an explosion in ground-breaking new technologies, the rate at which most companies have adopted new “work” strategies has stagnated. All too often there is unproductive tension between these two camps. This lack of alignment prevents the organization from propelling into the future of work. I recently spoke with Ed Coleman CEO of Unisys–one of the largest and most recognized IT companies. Ed, who is also the former CEO of Gateway, shed light on how to bring together business and IT teams for mutual benefit. Ed highlighted four key things that organizations can do to overcome the challenge of aligning IT and business.

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Give the CIO a Seat at the Table

Ed said many CIOs don’t actually report to the CEO.  In many occasions the CIO will report several levels down from the chief executive.  IT gains much better visibility into the key imperatives for the company with a CIO who reports to the CEO. Additionally a CIO who reports to the CEO will give the business stakeholders a greater opportunity to learn about what’s happening within IT. These conversations between IT and business aren’t happening nearly enough.

Bring in the right IT and Business Leadership

Ed firmly believes that the role of IT is to support the business. IT is the backbone that helps organizations operate. According to Ed too often we see IT leadership focusing on their priorities rather than those of business as a whole. The CIO and other members of IT need to understand that their purpose in the organization is to support the company. This means helping communicate and steer the direction in a collaborative manner.

With all that being said organizations also need to have the right leadership on the business side. These executives must understand and see the value that IT can provide. It’s not about delegating things to IT it’s about sitting down with them and making sure that both parties understand what is needed and what is feasible. This is one of the reasons why the CIO needs a seat at the executive table.

Balance Security and Transparency

Historically the traditional model of IT has a been to create a force-field around the company. With this IT force-field the company’s data and the people in the ecosystem are protected. However in today’s environment we are seeing that this approach is no longer effective. Hackers can get inside of organizations and information gets leaked out. In today’s networked world security is one of the common denominators across the entire company. It’s a shift from a more passive form of IT to a more active form of IT. Again, this also opens up a valuable dialogue.

Be Faster and Communicate Better

Unfortunately IT has a reputation for moving too slowly. Many business leaders have deployed their own collaborative technologies without IT because they didn’t want to wait. Ed believes IT decisions need to be made quicker and decision roadblocks need to be removed. In addition Ed highlights the necessity for more open communication. IT needs to do a more effective job of communicating their plans and roadmaps to the rest of the organization. That way the employees have insight into the future strategy of the organization.

Today there is an issue of “rogue deployment,” but this is something we’ve seen before. Thirty years ago CIOs had this exact same issue when business units were buying their own PCs without IT. Even though cloud deployments are virtually frictionless for organizations to deploy; at the end of the day Ed believes this will all come back to the CIO. Why? Because, it’s always going to come back to the question of integration and interaction. How will employees use the technologies and how will they fit together to support the business? As far as helping minimize rogue deployments, Ed believes the answer there lies in education, training, and policy development for employees.

In Conclusion

IT needs to be empowered to communicate the IT roadmaps and business leaders need to be receptive to learning and understanding what those plans are.

The one common thread is communication. Productive communication needs to happen more frequently. That communications needs to be a two-way dialogue. The opportunity for CIOs and IT to have an impact on their organizations has never been greater.



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