Forrester urges IT leaders to lead business change

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IT needs to change its operational structure to tightly align IT with business imperatives, said consultancy firm Forrester at its IT Forum in Portugal.

“Your success imperatives should link with the [chief executive's] success imperatives,” began Forrester chief executive George Colony. “Actually go and ask your [chief executive] what's on their list and then make them yours,” he said. “Drive transformation and innovation to enable what the CEO wants.”

Maggie Miller, chief information officer at Warner Music Group told delegates that business managers would only listen to IT once it had established a track record of delivery.

"We need to do the basics right, such as drive down costs, and build relations by understanding what they value and need most. We should not just do what we think is most fun," she said.

"Gradually we can inform our colleagues so they have an idea of what is possible and so they know what we have to offer… So we need to blur the line between IT and the business. We need to get out there and to listen."

Miller also said when she worked as CIO in Sainsburys she used to pack customers bags in the shopping stores during Christmas break so she could get a better understanding of business need.

Forrester research director Alex Cullen said chief information officers need to wake up to a shift in IT from a technology provider to a key strategic asset to the business.

“We are at a fork in the road and you need to decide which path to go down: one is about IT, where you need an IT general manager, while the other is about [supporting business] change, where you need an IT change agent,”added Cullen.

Cullen pointed to a difference between a typical IT department that focuses on IT architecture, demand management and IT operations, and a business technology department, which should involve more of a business led architecture and be focussed on innovation and synchronising IT with the business departments.

He explained that both departments should exist in the future but that they should be governed by different teams.

“The IT general manager holds the business as its main customer and so should focus on IT performance, effectiveness, and manage vendor partners and outsourcers,” suggested Cullen.

“While the change agent needs to focus on the firm's customers and deal in business metrics, such as profit and market expansion margins.”
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