A Forrester Consulting study commissioned by Colt Technology Services reveals that a lack of engagement between IT and the customer-facing business departments is holding back the drive for business transformation and competitive advantage. With enterprises under pressure to make workforces more efficient, deliver real-time customer data and meet the demand for consumerisation of IT, organisations are increasingly looking to IT to develop and defend competitive advantage. However, less than half of CIOs say that they frequently or often collaborate with marketing (43%) and sales (30%) functions, even though these functions are increasingly purchasing their own IT services and infrastructure. In comparison, 79% of CIOs frequently collaborate with finance.
The study states: “Enterprises require access to the best market information, often in real time, regarding customer behaviour, competitor activity and sales results… As IT increasingly needs to go to lines of business to get funding for specific IT projects, lines of business need to understand in more detail what their money is spent on and why… The shorter this transition process is, the lower the risk to client-facing activities will be…”
The research, based on 400 CIO interviews across Europe, investigates the nature of relationships between IT and the lines of business. While 57% of European CIOs acknowledge that they only rarely or sometimes collaborate with the marketing function, the infrequency of collaboration between departments is more significant across Switzerland (72%), Belgium (70%) and the UK (68%). Despite this, more than half (56%) of the CIOs surveyed acknowledge that the heightened need to become more familiar with lines-of-business is a challenge that they need to address.
As organisations adopt new technologies and become more data-driven, sales and marketing teams are increasingly purchasing their own IT services which results in lower direct communication between these departments and IT. The study shows that over 60% of CIOs see other departments buying their own (shadow) IT as a threat to their own roles and responsibilities, rising to 82% amongst respondents in France. This is particularly worrying as half of CIOs still think that business executives do not appreciate what can or cannot be done with technology to drive business goals.
Stuart Walters, IT Director at Taylor Wessing commented on the results of the findings: “First and foremost the CIO needs to understand the lines of business in their own organisation and how IT can assist with the deliver and optimisation of them. This approach enables myself and my peers to not only deliver value into the business, but also by working closer with sales and marketing functions, deliver value into the organisations of our customers.”
Julie O’Hara, VP of Services and Solutions, Colt said: “The future CIO has a central role to play in transforming business performance. As CIOs and sales and marketing departments work more closely together, the CIO will become more familiar with the business strategy and consequently more able to explain the benefits of IT to the business in terms of the value to the end customer.
“Within the marketplace, we see the CIO who understands how lines of business operate and interact with each other, as well as the strategic objectives of their customers and suppliers, emerging as a driver of business transformation and changing the IT department into a service provider to the enterprise. This enables the whole organisation to deliver superior customer experience and improved brand differentiation.”
The findings come from a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Colt, VMware and Cisco entitled “Bridging The Gap Between Technology And Business Needs”, January 2013.
According to Gavin Jackson, EMEA Director for Cloud Services and Partners of VMware; “At no other time in the history of IT has the promise of technology been so aligned with business potential. This carries significant implications for today’s CIO, who has to deliver innovation within the context of the business bottom line. Those CIOs that are less business-minded are finding their authority, once a certainty, is now something to justify and prove.”
Jeremy Bevan, Head of EMEAR Marketing, Cisco commented "As industries evolve and technology gains prominence for all lines of business, the CIO and their IT groups are positioned to become key enablers with increasing strategic value. With the scope to enhance operational performance and make a profound impact on the business, IT-enabled leaders will be key to realising business potential."