If there is one issue that consistently gives CIOs headaches, it's a lack of alignment between IT and the broader business. According to a Society for Information Management survey, it was the top CIO management concern in 2006.
Should CIOs waste so much Excedrin on alignment? In a recent IT Business Edge interview, Neil Raden, the founder of consulting firm Hired Brains, calls IT/business alignment "a myth" that "doesn't make any sense."
It's obvious from the tone of the rest of the interview, in which he makes the point that many business intelligence tools do not meet the needs of the modern enterprise, thanks largely to the cluelessness of BI vendors, that he is a man not afraid to voice his opinions in a way practically guaranteed to make some folks angry. (We refer to him as "outspoken" in our introduction.)
Some CIOs, therefore, may be tempted to dismiss him as a blowhard. This would be a mistake. While it may be a bit presumptuous to say, as he does, that "IT has almost outlived its usefulness," he is spot on with his statement that it will have to change -- and fast -- if it hopes to keep up with younger and more tech-savvy workers.
Many business execs already fault IT's sluggishness for negatively affecting business agility, according to a BPM Forum survey released last June. So it's obvious that something needs to change.
Raden says "harmonization" may be the answer. Maybe instead of trying to become better aligned with the business, CIOs should strive for a more fundamental reinvention. That appears to have been the case at the UK's EDF Energy, where its director of busness improvement and technology (not CIO) made a number of major changes, including separating day-to-day IT operations from application development and establishing a services-oriented internal resources pool.
An interesting side effect of the changes: Sixty percent of his internal recruits come from within the business, rather than from IT staff.