We’ve spent more than a decade in IT talking about “alignment” and “getting a seat at the C-suite table.” In contrast, look at counterparts in Finance, Sales, Marketing or Operations. There is no talk of aligning Sales with “the business,” and rarely do you hear CFOs or COOs lamenting their inability to get the CEO’s ear.
While Marketing and Sales direct all their efforts towards increasing the company’s bottom line, we in IT tend to focus on technology as the sole reason for our existence, rather than the tools of the trade to accomplish the company’s objectives. It’s time for a shift in thinking, and IT needs to see technology as our toolkit, not their raison du être. The best carpenter will work with you to design a new porch for your house, determining how you intend to use the porch, addressing aesthetic and pragmatic concerns, and asking questions you might have otherwise not considered, well before the first nail is hammered. Too often in IT we show up with nails and hammer in hand and start working, when the problem might require a plumber instead. IT’s role should be more about joint problem solving and diagnosis than just implementation.
Rather than trying to justify our toolkit through tenuous ROI and TCO calculations, IT should look to improve bottom line results; technology is part of the solution but not the solution itself. This shift in thinking alleviates the need to debate mercurial concepts like alignment. If you’re working to improve the bottom line like any other business unit, you are aligned. You also eliminate the need to justify IT expenditures. When you’re selling improved market share, rather than a new data warehouse, everyone is talking the same language and focusing on the results, not haggling about whether #2 or #3 nails are appropriate for the project at hand.