How Can I Generate More Business Value From IT?

One of our clients recently asked us: “If I pay €100 million for IT, how can I generate more value?”

I am going to answer this question in detail during the upcoming Forrester Teleconference “Managing Portfolios Of Business-Process-Oriented IT Services”, on March 23, at 11 am ET. This blog post is an invitation for you to register. Here are the key takeaways and a few supporting arguments:

  1. Many IT organizations are not well-positioned to generate more business value. Forrester survey data suggest that IT organizations have not managed to improve their levels of business/IT alignment during the past three years. A majority of IT executives view the deployment of business-process-oriented models as the future of IT. But unfortunately, there are only few organizations that have implemented business-process-oriented models in IT. Most concerning: Many of the existing business process management (BPM) initiatives run outside IT. And, ironically, they look just like IT because they focus on deploying BPM tools such as application suites rather than optimizing business processes.  
  2. IT and BPM need a common demand framework to get business technology’s (BT’s) complexity under control and generate more business value. Many IT organizations have implemented business/enterprise architecture (EA) programs to get BT’s complexity under control and generate more value from IT and BPM investments. We assert, however, that these EA programs are necessary but not sufficient. BPM and IT need a common framework, which Forrester calls demand management (DM), that takes care of five additional processes: governance, investment, performance, and risk and portfolio management.
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How To Make IT A Competitive Differentiator And Career Enabler For Non-IT Staff

One of our clients recently asked us to help them with an interesting query:

We’re looking for companies that use their internal IT as a competitive differentiator — attracting employees and enabling their success in a noticeably different way. This would focus on the non-IT staff, rather than IT staff.

Since the end of the Internet bubble and Nicholas Carr’s Harvard Business Review article, “IT Doesn’t Matter,” 10 years ago, IT executives have worked very hard to increase IT’s business relevance. They put internal IT through several waves of consolidation, outsourcing, and reorganization aimed to make IT more efficient, reliable, and service-oriented. But how many of these actions also managed to make IT a differentiating, more attractive place to work?

I have seen different approaches for making IT a more attractive workplace, for non-IT staff in particular. While trying to escape the traditional IT cliché, these models have some similarities with the three archetypes of IT — and different value propositions:

  1. Solid utilities extend their scope beyond IT services to support corporate processes. For example, Procter & Gamble’s GBS and Volkswagen’s Konzern IT use business analysts and positions to attract non-IT talent.
  2. Trusted suppliers are providers of high-tech specialized business solutions, such as Bloomberg or FactSet in the finance sector, looking for specialized engineers motivated to find their competitive IT edge.
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