The debate over the alignment between IT and the business goes back as far as 1960s. Try as we might, we never seem to get business and IT aligned, resulting in a perennial debate that seems to never resolve anything.
This week the IT services firm Capgemini Consulting announced it is partnering with The Center for Digital Business at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology to create a Digital Transformation practice that will take a new tact on eliminating the divide between business and IT.
Didier Bonnet, strategy and development director for Capgemini Consulting, says the real issue is not about alignment between IT and the business, but rather teaching the business what it can do with technology in terms of creating new business and services. The opportunity for IT people is to extend their influence beyond the data center to help create new digital products and services that will transform the business.
Every major business, notes Bonnet, is under some form of pressure that is emanating from the emergence of new competitors leveraging technology. Capgemini, says Bonnet, is creating a practice specifically designed to help middle managers and senior business leaders understand the impact and potential of digital technologies.
In particular, Bonnet says companies need to come to terms with the paradox of IT. On the one hand, to make IT effective across the organization, information flow needs to be centrally managed. But the reason for doing that is so critical business information can be more easily distributed throughout the organization. The end result is greater democratization of power within the business because more decisions will be made by line managers rather than senior executives back at headquarters.
From an IT perspective, this trend is already manifesting itself in the form of increased investments in analytics technologies and the customer experience on the Web. But Bonnet says this is only the beginning of a digital transformation that will eventually touch every facet of the business.