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Aligning IT for growth

Computer Weekly Staff

When one company acquires another, future growth is often uppermost in mind. And placing bets on where potential growth is likely to come from is the habitual practice of any good business strategist.

Gartner, in its paper The Seven Levers of Growth, is exhorting IT directors to adopt a more proactive and enterprising mindset when identifying IT investment areas. It is no longer enough to do a good job on bedrock IT, or comply with frameworks.

This entails, says the research firm, developing an intimate knowledge of the strategic growth plans of your business, deciding how to harness IT resources to contribute directly to growth, and consulting closely with senior management to ensure that IT does not merely support the business, but drives its growth.

A corollary of this playing the part of an agent of change is to train one's focus away from areas of the business that do not support sales or reduce costs. This might mean sticky conversations with the HR or finance function, but it should also mean warm and dewy-eyed discussions with sales and marketing.

It might mean adopting an outsourcing strategy which is less about divesting a dog, and more about rendering a star more stellar. Mick James' outsourcing case study on Threadneedle Investments offers a good story of this kind.

It might also mean charging back IT to other departments. Charging back, if it is perceived as highlighting IT's role as a contributor to the business, is a useful stratagem. There is, however, a danger that it could reinforce a division between "the business" and IT, with the former as the disgruntled "customer" of the latter.

For there is no is no magic formula for business-IT alignment. And, as an example, to derogate frameworks such as ITIL and Cobit because they do not necessarily vouchsafe business growth would be folly indeed.


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