It is time for the annual IT kickoff and presentation of the 2013 IT strategy. The kickoff meeting offers a unique opportunity to assess IT, its role in the enterprise, its goals for the coming year, etc. These sessions provide insight into how isolated IT is from the rest of the enterprise. Here are ten telltale signs that IT is on an island and seen as apart rather than a part of your company.
These are in no particular order.
- Isolation by irrelevance. The IT strategy talks about IT without putting IT in a business context or connecting what IT does with what the business needs to do. An IT strategy that only talks about IT tells the business that they do not have to worry, care or expect much from IT because its more of a functional appendage than a core capability.
- Isolation by the ordinary. The goals, targets and outcomes in the IT strategy are vague, unclear, and center on doing your current job better – high quality services, managing costs, delivering projects on time, etc. Sure it is great to know that doing your job means success, but often doing your job is the best way to lose your job.
- Isolated by monetization. The IT strategy is presented in financial terms, with nature only expressed in terms of budgets, costs and the need to control both. Reducing IT to its input costs is the epitome of commoditization as everything can be expressed in terms of money with little regard to the capabilities and results returned for that investment.
- Isolated by a lack of prioritization. All projects, services, imperatives are equally important. If everything is equally important, than nothing is particularly important to IT or the business.
- Isolation in time. The high level initiative or project Gant chart has the vast majority of projects completing at the end of 2013 or beyond. What happened to last year’s projects – the 2012 initiatives that were planned to complete in 2013? If everything is expected to complete 9 months or more in future, then how connected is it to the rest of the organization.
- Isolation by generalization. The stated IT vision could apply to any company, any year or any industry. How relevant and connected could your IT strategy be if anyone could fulfill the IT goals?
- Isolation by repetition. This year’s goals are the same or very similar to last year’s plus or minus 10%. Is IT delivering new results or repeating the same results year over year?
- Isolation by ability. There are limited investments in IT skills, capabilities or capacity to execute the strategy. Given the growing and changing demands of new technology it is difficult to see how you can connect business and new technology without also gaining new skills.
- Isolation by organization. The IT strategy describes new governance arrangements, processes and policies for engaging the business. This institutionalizes the separation of IT from the rest of the business via formal processes and procedures.
- Isolation by stability. Does the rate of change in the IT organization its structure and teams match the rate of change in the rest of the organization? If IT remains the same when the rest of the organization is changing, then it has to be isolated.
These are just a few observations of IT strategies that indicate that IT is isolated from the rest of the organization. An introspective IT organization represents a reasonable response to past pressures for cost, quality and risk. However, this introspection is no longer valued in the emerging world of digitalized business its time for IT to re-integrate with the rest of the organization to prevent isolation from becoming banishment.
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