Crisis stimulates renewed cooperation between IT and business

Successfully Partnering Technology and Business Competences to Ensure Optimal Use of the Available Technological Capabilities

Eager to test the hypothesis that the crisis of 2008 has exerted significant impact on the way companies manage their IT, Vlerick Business School teamed with Deloitte to invite 18 high-profile companies to participate in this study. 18 CIOs and 10 CFOs from these companies were interviewed about the way they are handling IT management during this current crisis. The results have been published in the report “Engaging in turbulent times. Direction setting for business and IT alignment.”

It is an accepted fact that business and IT are not always on the same wavelength. However, a recent study by Vlerick Business School and Deloitte shows that, in some companies, the crisis is compelling IT and business leaders and their staffs to team up with each other more effectively.

Stijn Viaene, Professor of Management and IT at Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School & K.U.Leuven, elaborates: “The crisis seems to have functioned as a catalyst for rethinking the way the IT department can align itself with its demand side, and also the other way around. We noticed that the historical duality that has existed between the business and IT is slowly ebbing away in many mature organisations.”

How do You Manage your IT in Turbulent Times?

Viaene: “In times of crisis, cost-cutting is inevitable. Many CIOs are relying on a standard ‘IT diet’. The diet includes measures such as standardising technologies, centralising software licenses for economies-of-scale, freezing infrastructure overhauls, reducing external contractors, and the like. Still, at the same time, our interviewees are trying to keep a close eye on not cutting into the muscle whilst trying to remove the fat.”

And how do They Know whether Something is Fat or Muscle?

Viaene: “That was, indeed, a key question for our interviewees. This very question prompted our interviewees to elaborate on how they are working to further the relationship between business and IT. So, ‘muscle’ is clearly associated with a desire – and ability – to improve this relationship. In many organisations, the economic crisis has put considerable pressure on the CIO. Still, we have seen CIOs and CFOs who have moved beyond using mere short-term cost-cutting rationale to address the challenges that lie ahead. At the heart of our research report lies a theme-based compilation of best practices and insights that we’ve identified that help set the direction for a more effective engagement between business and IT.”

The report synthesises 4 business-IT engagement themes: bonding at the top, looking for benefits, serving professionally and engaging respectfully.

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