Goals for CIOs – Business and IT Alignment 2021

Written by Tecwyn Hill | 7 min read
Published on: March 10th 2021 - Last modified: March 11th, 2021
Business and IT alignment 2021

From the moment ‘Chief Information Officer’ was coined back in ‘81, CIOs have been concerned about the increasing pace of technological change. However, as we step deeper into a new decade, this 40-year challenge is not just about delivering tech, but the required speed of delivery. IT leaders should chase solutions and not products, driving value in digital opportunities and the workforce. Understanding business and IT alignment 2021 delivers mature technologies, including AI, IoT, big data, and analytics, with enhanced staff response and upgraded customer experience.

Business and IT alignment 2021

Metrics that matter

A prerequisite for success requires CIOs to increase the delivery of value after a project is completed. Too often, tasks end at implementation, and the team is disbanded. Capturing the value delivered involves quantifying and fully realizing gains, especially from initiatives like customer relationship management (CRM). In other words, just implementing a project isn't enough. IT teams need to measure benefits and analyze impact. Companies this decade should be translating experience into operational reality by putting the customer at the center of everything we do.

While delivering Customer Excellence, the C-suite needs to hire and then develop staff that genuinely add value to the organization’s culture and mission. They also need to offer the resources and support required, and then get out of their way so they can succeed! Meanwhile, too many departments aren’t using all their features and functions, and ergo, IT teams pay for licenses and fees that aren’t generating business value.

Transformed landscape

Plus, COVID-19 struck IT like a sledgehammer in early 2020, demolishing long-established operations and processes, forcing CIOs to identify and deploy acceptable alternatives quickly. Now, as the virus threat appears to be gradually receding, IT leaders are viewing a radically transformed landscape, wondering how essential operations and practices will fit into a reset business world.

(Indeed, aligning business and IT still vexes many organizations, and it is no surprise that our 2018 post is still #1 with readers).

From information technology to business technology

As discussed in the above post, when business goals pivot, IT should be capable of readily responding with necessary solutions to support and maintain enterprise momentum. In turn, technological advances and improvements are hardwired into current and future strategies and initiatives, creating one unified team from these seemingly disparate silos.

Business and IT alignment 2021

But how does IT prove its value and win the trust of the C-suite? Well, according to Gartner, almost 20% of companies have already invested in tools capable of monitoring business-relevant metrics, with this number predicted to reach 60% by the end of 2021. The problem is many infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders don’t know where to begin when initiating an IT monitoring strategy.

The consumerization of business and IT alignment 2021

As this unification progresses and becomes more widespread, business and IT alignment 2021 will increasingly lead to the ‘consumerization of IT’, where corporate and personal technology interweave. Indeed, there is already a growing expectation that employees should have access to the same technologies at home and in the office. I mean, who doesn’t want to search for information across their organization’s databases as easily as if they were asking Alexa or Siri?

Hey, Siri, how do we enable the future of business infrastructure?

An implication of business and IT alignment 2021 is the changing nature of corporate IT. In short, roles that were traditionally embedded within IT departments are now formally integrated into the business. This has significant implications for IT infrastructure because staff must be efficient in their tasks, and be reliably, safely, and cost-effectively shared across the enterprise to tackle any pain points that arise.

Reach beyond the everyday: The challenges to alignment

With this, CIOs are under mounting pressure in 2021 to address digital needs that grow and transform, as well as to renovate the operational environment with new functions. They also must still demonstrate how IT is meeting a given business strategy. So looking forward, no matter how big or small your business is, technology can deliver tangible and intangible benefits (like speed and performance) to hit revenue and operational targets efficiently, and meet your customers’ expectations of innovation.

Business and IT alignment 2021: The rate of change

This continuous strategic loop means enterprises function better, make more profit, and see better ROI because they achieve their goals with less effort. And while there may be no standard way to align successfully, an organization where IT and business strategy are in lock-step can further improve agility and operational efficiencies. This battle of the ‘effs’, efficiency vs. effectiveness, has never been so central to business survival.

In fact, successful companies are those that dive deeper; such is the importance of this synergy. Amazon and Apple are prime examples—technology and technological innovation are embedded and aligned within their operational structure. In several cases, they created the integral technology and business strategies themselves!

Convergence and integration

These types of aligned companies have also increased the efficiency of technology investments and significantly reduced the financial and operational risks associated with business and technical change. This decade, IT strategy must link competitiveness and decision-makers with business needs by leveraging strategic goals and business processes.

However, if this rate of change and business agility is as fast as we continually say, we need to be talking about convergence and integration, not just alignment. In other words, let’s do the research and learn, but empower next-level thinking so we can focus on the co-creation of “true value” and respond quickly to customers and users for better brand awareness and loyalty.

Granular strategies

Without this granular strategy, companies may spend too much on technology without ever solving the business challenges they face, primarily due to differing departmental objectives, cultures, and incentives. Simply put, business and IT alignment 2021 integrates technology with the strategy, mission, and goals of an organization. For example:

  • Faster time-to-market
  • Increased profitability
  • Better customer experience
  • Improved collaboration
  • Greater industry and IT agility
  • Strategic technological transformation

Hot topic

View webcast recording Empowering Collaboration Between Business and IT, with Fabio Gammerino, Signavio Pre-Sales Consultant.

The power of process

While it may seem intuitive, many organizations struggle to achieve the elusive goal of business and IT alignment. This is not only because alignment is a cumbersome and lengthy process, but because the overall process consists of many smaller sub-processes. Each of these sub-processes lacks a definitive start and endpoint. Instead, each one comprises some “learn and do” cycles that incrementally advance the overall goal.

These cycles aren’t simple fixes, which explains why issues still exist in the digital realm. But by establishing a common language, building internal business relationships, ensuring transparency, and developing precise corporate plans of action, the bridge between the two stabilizes.

Four steps to best position your business and IT alignment 2021 strategy:

  1.  A shared understanding of the organizational ecosystem and urgency of issues - Since ineffective behavior often results from a lack of knowledge of one’s actions, the analysis should clarify how current practice results in problems and complexity in the organization and IT ecosystem. This analysis is critical to avoid chasing silver bullets and to align all the stakeholders around a shared understanding of the issues they need to address.
  2. A shared vision to challenge your business model - A key driver of successful operational excellence is uniting the entire company under one shared concept. From here, your business model can be tested under any number of conditions. It is essential to examine the internal part of your business model, your relationship with your customers, and your position concerning competitors. After forming a clear picture of where you are now, you have to determine an accurate business model based on the concept of business and IT alignment. This model then has to be translated into a transparent and flexible change agenda, where the shared vision functions as a long-term guideline.
  3. An agile approach to implementation with focused sprints and multidisciplinary teams - Given that business and IT alignment 2021 involves change across organizational boundaries, it logically requires interdisciplinary teams for success. This is a part of the transformation where the use of certain agile principles can help because multidisciplinary teams can work in iterations and continuously learn and adjust. But they only work well if the goals and boundaries are apparent and are driven from a place of shared understanding between business and IT executives.
  4. Dismantling disparate silos with clear communication and unison momentum - To keep staff motivated and involved throughout any alignment agenda, it is essential to share and celebrate success. While this is obvious, if achievements are not highlighted, or appear disconnected from the transformation, the willingness to learn and grow together, and tackle the next steps as a team, will diminish. Consider using creative and attractive ‘alignment journeys’: for example, VR and AR solutions are great at visualizing how teams are moving forward and how the IT ecosystem is changing.

Process mining for improved customer experience and mapping

Reconfigure customer excellence in 2021

The integration of process mining in business is also essential in growing the process excellence and management market. With process management, we already talk about customer engagement, which empowers companies to shift away from lopsided efficiency goals, which often frustrate customers, towards all-inclusive effectiveness goals, built around delighting customers at the lowest organizational cost possible.

However, the application of process mining and customer journey modeling —especially when linked to underlying business processes—offers the bundled capability of better operational understanding and outside-in customer perspective, connected to the processes that deliver them. So, by connecting process mining with a customer-centric view across producing, marketing, selling, and providing products and services, Customer Excellence becomes a strategic catalyst.

Signavio says

Temporarily rotating IT employees within business operations is a top strategy in reaching business-IT alignment because it circulates company knowledge. This cross-pollination encourages better relationships between the IT department and other silos and broadens skill-sets, especially for entry-level employees. Better knowledge depth gives the organization more flexibility with well-rounded employees who can fill various roles as demand arises.

Unlock the potential of process

Start process mining initiatives with SAP Signavio Process Intelligence, and see how it can help your organization uncover the hidden value of process, generate fresh ideas, and save time and money. Then, discover how Signavio can future-proof your IT transformation and operational excellence initiatives with the SAP Signavio Process Transformation Suite! Try it for yourself by registering now for a free 30-day trial.

Published on: March 10th 2021 - Last modified: March 11th, 2021