Business-IT alignment efforts are a mainstay in most CIO’s agendas. And enterprise architects’ business architecture initiatives take that a step further, aspiring to find a nirvana where creating, vetting, and maintaining business architectures that map to well thought-out business strategies are regularly occurring activities (see the Forrester report, "Business Architecture's Time Has Come"). Then aligning application, information, and technical architectures completes the loop, and there’s plenty of information to feed into innovation incubators, too. The IT organization and the architecture become aligned and the IT strategic plan practically writes itself
A recent Forrester snap-survey shows that 41% of IT decision-makers are seeing their relationships with business peers strengthen in response to economic conditions. And only 13% feel that the relationships have been harmed — being pushed back into more of a support role. These figures suggest that IT has the opportunity to play a lead role in bottom-line drivers — well beyond cost reduction. Smart IT leaders know that now is their chance to redefine IT’s value to the enterprise.
The bigger question is: What should IT leaders do to capitalize on this opportunity? We at Forrester have our ideas (hey, we’re a firm full of analysts so there’s no shortage of opinions here). Some that come to mind are:
A wander through history today with apologies to those looking for punchy bullets.
The Web turns 20 today. Frickin' amazing if you ask me. My 10-year old wonders out loud what we all did before the Internet (by which he means the browser-based world of Club Penguin, Google, Yahoo!, and YouTube). And for the life of me, I can't remember, either.
How did we collaborate? Well, I remember that I wrote lots of letters to friends to stay in touch and was thrilled when someone wrote back (it was too expensive to make long-distance phone calls). My 7th grade buddies and I also wrote away to Pennzoil and STP to ask for stickers to put on our notebooks. I also spent a lot of time in the library (any library anywhere) and in book stores looking for books, magazines, research papers, whatever.
And for sharing information? Copies, copies, copies. I was an early and big fan of the mimeograph machine, stinky beast though it was. We used to sneak into the Physics office in college to get extra blanks in case we messed up when making copies for a seminar. And you had to get there early on seminar day to command a slot in the mimeograph line. (It was a blessed breakthrough when the Xerox machine was installed -- and only a dime a copy!)
And for creating, editing, co-authoring? It was typewriters, paper, and purple pens, folks. And pen and ink for graphics. Ugly stuff, but amazingly it worked. It took days or weeks do a turnaround, though.
It was shocking to me anyway that we already have 34 million Americans working at least occasionally from home today. And that's with broadband to only 56% of US homes. But that's what the data say. And with our Consumer Technographics survey of 61,033 US and Canadian consumers, you can be confident that the numbers are accurate.
But it's even more surprising to run the numbers forward to 2016 and see how many Americans will work from home then: 63 million! We just published our US Telecommuting forecast that shows how an additional 29 million telecommuters will enter the remote workforce. What's going on?
First, broadband pipes to the home, work laptops, and secure VPNs bring the tools that most information workers need right to the kitchen table or bedroom office. And collaboration tools like instant messaging, Web conferencing, team sites, and desktop video conferencing make it ever-easier to stay in touch and contribute to the project.
Second, employees rightfully point out that they will save time in commuting and can get more done for their employers with that time. The benefits of work flexibility and leaving gas in the tank are also real.
In the current economic climate it’s not a surprise that many of the conversations I have with clients tend to revolve around IT budgets, the cost of IT, and what if anything can be done about it.
Unfortunately, for many IT organizations, cost is the only metric they have that their customers understand. And so it is the one that gets most of the attention. These conversations with clients usually take one of two directions. The first one focuses on how IT can cut costs quickly and effectively without “throwing the baby out with the bath water” so to speak. This is the realist’s approach. The second one is a plea for help in justifying the existing or planned budget to business executives. This is the idealist’s approach. More often than not the end result is the same - IT budgets are cut without regard to impact on the business and everyone suffers.
It seems like every CIO I talk with has or is creating a plan to reduce costs. Whether they’re shooting for a svelte, wiry, emaciated or lean organization, there are a number of common roles that senior IT people say are critical to this goal.