Partnering to Shape the Future: IT’s New Imperative
A recent study conducted by McKinsey confirms what BRMs have been saying for years: when IT acts as a partner to the business instead of acting as a consultant, IT performs better.
Reported in May of this year, the survey results suggest that the pressure on IT to perform will only increase with the growth of third-party services (such as cloud offerings and infrastructure as a service) and digitization. With regard to digital initiatives, companies in which IT plays a partner role are also further along in implementation and achieving business impact.
While these results are far from earth-shattering to the global BRM community, here are some key takeaways and to-dos that BRMs can jot down.
- 49% of respondents from IT and the business expressed feeling as though IT plays the role of supplier. That means that only half of respondents felt as though IT plays the role of either partner or consultant. It is obvious we have some work to do, and the way to do it is to engage in partnership activities like innovation, value messaging, and visioneering.
- 11% of IT executives said that reducing IT costs was a high priority, making it the second most common priority among IT. The issue with this, however, is that the business ranked this priority last—therefore dispelling the myth that the business thinks IT costs too much. Beginning with the CIO and followed by the BRM, all of IT must ensure that they are not overly sensitive to cost as the measure that determines their worth. Transform the paradigm. Value and innovation is what the business appreciates, and they will pay for it.
- As a glimmer of hope for BRMs, both IT and non-IT executives agreed that the number one priority was improving the effectiveness of IT business processes.BRMs should note that this is the statistic to help our peers turn their paradigm—in other words, focus on business results, and the business will be satisfied.
IT must ensure that they are not overly sensitive to cost as the measure that determines their worth. Transform the paradigm. Value and innovation is what the business appreciates, and they will pay for it.
McKinsey noted several significant points that can help the BRM advance the partnership culture within their organization, beginning with innovation.
The study indicated that organizations that implement bottom-up innovation ideas have almost a 3.5x likelihood of viewing IT as a partner.
The message: start innovating. BRMs should press innovation plans and joint thinking to get the ideas rolling and to turn them into I-dos. In order for BRMs to move up the Maturity Model, this action is critical.
Transparency and accountability are other areas on which to focus. The business is 2.64x more likely to see IT as a partner when IT is transparent and measures itself on multiple dimensions. The BRM is critical to advancing this capability, and should continually work to put IT on display while working with the CIO. For organizations that are behind in this area, the BRM can light the fuse to get this going.
The final finding of the study was that engaging business leaders proactively builds partnership culture. In fact, based on the study, the business was 2.5x more likely to see IT as a partner when they were engaged.
Innovation, transparency and accountability, and engagement
Aside from being the three major takeaways from McKinsey’s study, these are also three areas that sum up the role of the BRM. BRMs everywhere should have confidence that their role makes a difference.
It is clear there has never been a better time to be a BRM.
Most optimistically, the survey showed conclusively that the business is ripe to accept IT as a strategic business partner. They are feeling the pressure and are open to partnership like never before, creating an opportunity that cannot be dismissed. When BRMs immediately begin to elevate their roles, have confidence in what they do, and showcase the results, both they and the entire organization will benefit from their efforts.
McKinsey has spoken, and it is clear there has never been a better time to be a BRM. The global BRM community must take note to stand up and get going—your entire organization is looking forward to it.
Gerry Robinson is an information technology professional with diverse experience in almost every facet of the technology business. He currently is an Independent Consultant working with executives, BRMs, and IT leaders to improve IT performance and efficiency. He has led teams in application development, cloud, and infrastructure projects. He is on the Executive Council at BRM Institute, and he is a previously published author of three books on technology, IT leadership, and business and IT convergence. Gerry holds a Project Management Professional (PMP) with the Project Management Institute (PMI).
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