James Hickman, Head of Sales at Altron Karabina, looks at how the business and IT relationship has morphed to the point where companies need to look at technology as a strategic concept and focus on the journey to the cloud.

Are we seeing the days of IT and business speaking different languages gone or are we still in the past where IT and business spoke past each other? The IT and business relationship history has been unstable, but things have and are changing quickly now with the progression of technology.

In the earlier days C, C+, C++ and Java were the languages of the IT department and business had no idea what the Zeros and Ones meant, while IT did not understand what Business really wanted to achieve, except for managing costs. It was the time when “bridging the digital divide” was the buzzword. Business units (BUs) understood other BUs while the techies understood each other and these separate languages keep them separate as well. Altron Karabina speaks both the IT and Business language and assists companies on their digital transformation journey and partner with customers and businesses to understand all the challenges they face.

To understand the whole concept of the current business and IT relationship in organisations one can learn a lot from understanding the history of how technology and the IT department started playing a role in businesses.

The years of backwards and forwards movement brought stability 

The digital revolution of the late 1980s and early 1990s, saw the move from the mainframe to the client-server and the IT environment becoming much more complex. At this time IT departments expanded massively and its profile was raised to great heights. IT was touted as the answer to address business needs. It was a step in the right direction to get business to realise that investing in technology should be seen as part of the overall business strategy.

When the Y2K (‘end-of-the-world’) alarm was raised, IT had a strong business case to assist in saving the business from the Y2K bug and securing the company’s profitability and existence. The CIO and the IT department had influence and decision-making power and added value to the organisation’s efforts.

However, as nothing came of Y2K after companies spent millions to get Y2K compliant and safeguard the organisations’ IT environments and total collapse, the CIO and the IT department’s reputations were intensely damaged. Business lost faith in IT and IT lost credibility and became a massive cost centre, and was moved from directly reporting to the CEO to falling under the CFO and the finance portfolio. It was seen as a simple function of the business, in which costs had to be contained.

This remained the status quo for businesses and IT departments until the digital transformation phenomena made its appearance. The only person who at that time had any idea or knowledge of digital was the CIO and maybe a super-savvy marketing officer.

As a result of digital transformation, the role of the CIO and the IT department was once again brought forward and it helped to, again, strengthen IT’s position in the organisation as adding value. As a business that is value obsessed, Altron Karabina is in the right position to assist companies on the road to digital transformation.

This digital transformation period was knighted through the proliferation of the cloud and the CIO stepped closer to business; with it the ability to influence and change the economic model from the past to reduce costs. At the same time, IT also had access to the tools to change the way the company does business.

IT understands Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, which are all based on the cloud while business is slowly being educated. The cloud is shifting business decision making and IT is back at the central business discussions table, with the power to facilitate those discussions – further than just business paying for an IT service.

The IT and business relationship has come full circle and IT is starting to make a much larger impact on business decision making than ever before. IT is now in the position to take the discussions further towards extending the business’ services and making it clear that technology is in fact a strategic concept that needs to be entrenched in the business model.

It has taken time to get to this point and, although not speaking the exact same language, there is a much better understanding of what the innovation of technology can offer organisations. IT and business will have to continue to build on this relationship to extract value from technology and digital transformation. Technology and assisting companies to digitally transform is our business, and we have been delivering innovation that matters to our customers for 20 years.

Technology is strategic

A recent McKinsey Global Survey of executives has found that the majority of the C-suite respondents recognise technology’s strategic importance as a critical component of the business, not just a source of cost efficiencies.

Leading companies are now closely tying their digital and corporate strategies together and in essence, starting to speak the same language. Organisations that are seeing success due to digitisation say it is because they changed their corporate strategies significantly, incorporating IT’s point of view and the impact of new technologies on business operations and its advancement.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also spurred the adoption of digital transformation, according to McKinsey, with a 25% acceleration factor recorded in companies’ increased use of advanced technologies, like Cloud computing, in the business decision making process.

For years there have been efforts made to stop the organisational silo business model, which is impeding the execution of the required changes to realise digital transformation. The shock and impact of COVID-19 on business have seemingly made organisations realise that there are valid reasons and importance to IT and Business alignment and collaboration.

IT needs to be viewed as an instrument for business transformation and cost-saving. If you’re asking how IT can ‘support’ the business and other business units like sales, product development, and marketing, you’re still stuck in the Siloed approach. IT should not be seen as a support function anymore.

We have seen that Cloud migration has been more cost-effective than previous norms and practices. Investments in data security and AI are just some of the change’s organisations identify as helping to position the organisations better. Altron Karabina is a Microsoft partner with a security-centric philosophy and mindset that has in-depth technology and industry expertise to transform your business and technology platforms.

Modernising core technology capabilities, investing more in technology and refocussing the entire business around digital technologies seem to be the leading causes for the C-Suite’s mindset change and realising the technology’s extreme importance in future business success over cost savings.

With companies realising the benefits of IT and Business alignment and collaboration, digital transformation is not only becoming realised but additionally presents a better customer experience – which ultimately boosts your bottom line.

Many digital disruptions require fundamental changes to business strategies and models. What remains fundamental though is that IT and Business can’t function without each other in modern times and, simply put, can’t flourish in a world where digital transformation and the cloud is the future.

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