Business-IT-Partnership: It’s complicated
January 2017
Nothing runs without IT: In the era of digitalization the partnership between business and IT is more essential than ever, but the partnership is running into trouble

There is no digital future without adequate information technology.
In theory, IT should act as a business partner. As the central interface within the company, it connects all business operations and processes, forming the platform for digitalization. In reality, a perfect relationship between business and IT is rare.

 

IT: Core of the digital agenda

Digitalization is not a buzzword any more, but part of any management board agenda. Business departments strive for launching new innovative products and services ever faster. Therefore, one thing is definite: There is no digital future without adequate information technology.

In theory, IT should act as a business partner. As the central interface within the company, it connects all business operations and processes, forming the platform for digitalization. In reality, a perfect relationship between business and IT is rare.
 

Business versus IT: a risk

In reality, the IT unit is often heavily occupied with legacy systems and historically grown complexity. IT lost its innovation capabilities. The mutual perception is IT as “the guard of legacy” versus business as “a dreamer without IT know-how”.

In extreme cases both business and IT units have given up on each other. In those situations, business units start to develop digital products and services on their own. The IT is left with their integration and operation. In some cases, the IT unit is entirely sidelined.

This is a risk. Innovative projects increasingly tend to overrun timelines and budgets, or even fail entirely. The IT unit in creasingly develops to a cost and complexity driver instead of a digitalization driver.
 

The concept of a good relationship

To fully spark the digitalization potential of a company, effective collaboration between IT and business is required (“Business-IT-partnership”). For this purpose, the organizations need to find common cultural ground – and therefore change their mind-sets.