Conflict, mistrust and doubt cloud IT's business credibility

Conflicting terminology and confusion over business-critical applications have spawned an environment of mistrust and doubt that's impeding IT shops.

While technical issues are the primary concern for IT professionals, greater business knowhow would strengthen their credibility, according to Candle Corporation vice president for systems and services management, John Kogel.

While consolidation and looking at ways to reuse infrastructure are key concerns for IT professionals, Kogel believes IT shops should be concentrating on building business acumen and relationships with business partners.

"There is a real gap or chasm between IT and the business side of the house. This is visible right now because of the pressure on costs, and the perception … [that] no one can actually say that [IT has] helped my business.

"More and more business people and CEOs are saying this [IT project] is a black hole and I am not getting back what I thought I should be getting back."

Kogel said it is not the technology that is responsible for the present disconnect between business and IT, but cultural and political issues.

"In some cases IT is still considered a service within the organisation. In other cases it is a strategic part," he said.

"You can tell pretty quickly if the CEO is on the board of directors or not if IT is part of the business strategy, and what the organisation thinks about the IT organisation. So depending on the [CEO], from an organisational perspective, the political barriers get built very quickly."

Kogel believes the move towards aligning IT with business will not be easy as both parties use a different vocabulary to describe what is important, and have different ideas on what is crucial.

"Obviously each organisation has some applications that are critical to conduct that business. The challenge [for business] is getting IT to recognise what the critical applications are, what the right resources are and how best to manage those applications.

"We have seen IT shops actually try to manage everything, even if it wasn't important, just because it was there."

Kogel said the big challenge for IT, especially over the next two years as the [economic climate] improves, will be justifying their credibility to business.

One way IT could do this, he said, would be to create the role of a business relationship manager, or IT services delivery manager.

These people would talk to business, try to understand what is important from their point of view and then look at how IT could manage the situation.

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