5 Conversations IT Needs to Have with C-Level Peers

    Today’s CIOs strive to make technology a strategic asset for the business and an engine of profitability. However, for the relationships between CIOs and their C-level peers to be truly successful, there should be a constant stream of open communication, with strong decisions being made, followed by rapid execution.

    With this in mind, Bill Bradley, CIO of CenturyLink, recommends that IT leaders have five essential conversations with their C-level peers to achieve mutually beneficial alignment on transformational IT strategies. These talks revolve around explaining the increased value IT can deliver: 1) Aligning on agility as the goal; 2) Rationalizing the application portfolio; 3) Rethinking the company’s data center strategy; 4) Investing in mobility; and 5) Building strategic services.

    Making the IT/business relationship work takes time and focus, but an investment in having the right conversations will pay great dividends to both business and IT management. Transforming your business to be agile has challenges as well as opportunities. Having these five conversations will help you get on the right path to making progress that benefits both sides.

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    Aligning IT and Business Strategies

    Click through for five conversations IT leaders need to have with C-level peers to achieve mutually beneficial alignment on transformation IT strategies, as identified by Bill Bradley, CIO of CenturyLink.

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    Align on Agility as the Goal

    Agility is the catalyst for transformation across all businesses. And, while agility is a goal that’s easy to agree on, the details can be tough to figure out. It’s partly a matter of translation. Both business and technology are filled with shared words, but often the meaning of these words, and their nuances, get lost in translation. Coming together on success measurements also helps create alignment. This may sound obvious, but business and IT organizations often have profoundly different metrics that signal a job well done. IT may focus on operational cost management, while the business may look more at revenue growth and margins. However, as you transform the way IT thinks about their mission, the IT department naturally becomes more aligned with business-related success metrics.

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    Rationalize the Application Portfolio

    IT and the business need to agree that the organization runs on an application portfolio – a collection of software applications usually composed of technologies from many vintages. Some apps are new. Some are old. They all provide value, but as time passes and your market changes, some are more suitable to support the future direction of the company. It’s like a football general manager deciding on whether to stick with a serviceable veteran quarterback or go with a young, potentially better player at the position. Consider capping investment in non-strategic applications while growing investment in applications that align with defined strategic business drivers. You then can think differently about how your organization supports applications, including opportunities such as moving to the cloud.

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    Rethink the Company’s Data Center Strategy 

    An effective way to get alignment on your data center strategy is to explain how hybrid IT approaches will allow you to bridge your prior investments (i.e., on-site infrastructure and co-location assets, sunk-licenses and hardware cost, etc.) with the goal of increasing agility and time to market through new solutions. Business leaders need to understand the differences between public cloud, private cloud and managed services, and how a hybrid strategy will provide an immediate path forward for your company. By having business leaders in the conversation, you can make smart choices on which services should be used today. After workloads that are critical to achieving agility and speed are migrated to the cloud, you can look at investing in your remaining workloads and managing your internal data center a different way. Leveraging managed services or co-location is an important part of any hybrid IT environment. And using a mix of services to create hybrid environments allows the IT organization to focus less energy on operations and more on what matters most: creating winning solutions for your business partners and customers. 

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    Invest in Mobility

    Investing in mobility is an essential element of an agile transformation. An agile company is more than one that can quickly iterate on software. Employees that are empowered to be closer to the customer and no longer tethered to a location can be more responsive to the customer. Bringing mobility to customers is an equally important part in a transformation to be more responsive. Allowing customers to interact with your company using any and every device allows the customer to know their needs are being met – when and where they choose. Creating great mobile solutions requires investment in underlying technology like responsive-cloud infrastructure and a services-based platform.

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    Build Strategic Services

    Services are no longer just another tool in the developer’s toolbox. Services must be viewed strategically as providing the building blocks for a nimble and responsive IT organization. You never want your development teams spending time recreating the same functionality in every new application. Development teams should focus on solving new or difficult problems instead of recreating existing functionality. Depending on your current services-maturity level, business leaders need to know the value in taking the time to retool key functionality into services. Services are a vital component of allowing IT to be more aggressive in evolving to a consumable, agile platform.

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