Why Should a CEO Care About Convergence?
The modern-day CEO has an immense responsibility to build trust in the fact that the enterprise can generate value.
Their constituents include the board of directors, employees, trading partners, and most of all, business partners—and these constituents are demanding about what they need.
In order to meet these demands, CEOs must make convergence between business and IT a priority.
Building trust with business partners
Building trust is a challenge when today’s expectations of the enterprise evolve rapidly. Think of the developments in mobility, big data, the Internet of Things, and cloud. All of these innovations have enterprise IT at their core, and each of these innovations were demanded by customers.
Source: Amazon Prime Air
Even among all of this, CEOs need to do what they have always done to build trust: consistently deliver services that meet or exceed expectations. The “what” is the same—it’s the “how” that changed.
Not long ago, “how to consistently deliver” basically amounted to being better business people.
Hire better. Work harder. Cut costs. Today, CEOs are doing all of that (which is good!), but customers expect great.
Converging business and IT
So, in light of today’s modern demands, how should CEOs approach the issue?
The answer lies in convergence. The digital economy demands that IT serves the enterprise as the connective tissue that allows business muscles to flex.
Convergence refers to the intersection and fusing-together between business and IT. CEOs must recognize the need for the enterprise to be tightly integrated in order to exceed the expectations of customers. When customers want services that are so useful that we can just expect them to be there when we need them, enterprises need convergence to achieve that level of service.
Aligning is not enough
Here is an example from my own experience with a business partner. A Request for Proposal outlined in limited detail how the business partner needed an electronic document management system for the purpose of complying with archival policies that 100% of records needed to be managed in electronic form. That said, the RFP left out some critical details.
Alignment of IT to the business would mean proposing the conversion and storage—just what the business partner asked for in the RFP. From experience, though, I knew that the alignment solution would neither solve the issue nor present unique value to the partner. In order to be successful and add value, the IT business partner (me) needs to know what the need really is—before being asked.
What were the aforementioned critical details that were left out? The business partner was actually painfully understaffed when it came to addressing the agency’s strategic objectives. Staff used about 35% of each work day to search, compile, and re-copy records into new folders as support for priority goals for each quarter.
Moreover, I knew that 90% of the records were already in electronic form. Was the business need really just the remaining 10% of records? Not at all.
When customers want services that are so useful that we can just expect them to be there when we need them, enterprises need convergence to achieve that level of service.
Convergence of business and IT would empower the staff to partner with their IT business partner. We could explore whether the business partner had the opportunity to substantially reduce the 35% work time spent on searching records and therefore increase its focus on strategic objectives.
IT-enabled business could include natural language processing, machine learning, integration to the key terms of the agency strategic plan, and other modern solutions to find new ways of working. How’s that for a win theme?
CEOs must recognize that the convergence of business and IT is the only way to consistently deliver services that meet or exceed customer expectations.
Every business is now an IT business. Fortunately for the modern CEO, though, these IT business partners have a name—business relationship managers—and they have a home: BRM Institute.
Come on over for a visit. We’re happy to share our expertise, methods, and tools for convergence. I’ll bring the peanut butter sandwiches.
Dan Kotrapu, BRMP® is based in the Washington, D.C. area. His professional experience includes building IT partnerships in Finance, HR, and Legal functions as a BRM for a large global enterprise, as well as IT program and project management. His background includes Big 4 consulting to commercial and federal organizations, corporate finance, and an early career as a litigation attorney.