In any organization, business is driven at two levels i.e. the strategic (within boardrooms) and the execution (by the end-user). That said, our recent study of APM in the Indian BFSI sector tells us that these business strategies being devised in corporate offices often fail to reach the end user and given that they are not involved in the process, expectations and perceptions often differ. However, between the two are a number of departments that are expected to help end-users achieve those business goals. IT is one such department and in today’s connected environment, probably infinitely more important than HR or operations. It is at this juncture that I’d like to draw attention to an interesting question recently asked by a consultant on LinkedIn – Why is it so hard to get IT departments to be more engaged in the execution of corporate strategic goals? Our Chief Operating Officer – Sivakumar Ramamurthy – answered this rather aptly.
- Look at how applications are performing at the end-user level as compared to the broad enterprise network level
- Translate business goals into actionable end-user metrics that make it easy to spot when an end-user is having trouble – this again draws on the fact that there isn’t always a clear direction from business to begin with
In essence, his views capture the state of IT departments across industries today. There is a desire to be considered a business partner but an understandable inability to THINK business. I don’t think that one can place blame here given that when IT first made its debut into everyday functioning, it’s aim had been to simply automate and later moved onto the higher goal of increasing productivity while lowering costs. It is this second stage beyond which most IT departments have not been able to move. This is an indication of the fact that while business leaders believe that IT is a boardroom subject, it still tends to be marginalized as a support function that is focused on saving costs.
With that kind of direction, it is not surprising that IT departments haven’t been able to scale up the way business expects it to. As a result, they’ve come to believe that their technical knowledge protects them even as things like the consumerization of IT have become a reality. Much like doctors had believed they were the final word until the internet opened up medical information to patients.
So this explains the business-IT disconnect, but what about the IT-end user disconnect? Our survey reveals that 53% respondents thought IT and end-users were always at odds with each other. What this says is that while end-users demand 100% uptime, IT is unable to deliver on this given its inability to do two things:
What you’re left with is three silos i.e. business, IT and end-users that don’t really speak with each other, understand each other and, look at each other as co-dependents and therefore, do not align with each other. So while business is looking to up EBITDA margins, IT thinks it can do this by reducing the TCO of its IT investments, all the while not really considering that if it can increase application uptime and reduce its cost of application delivery, then the end-user may actually become more capable of delivering on the business goals and IT can go from being an enabler to a revenue generator.