Technology vendors know all about managing IT department expectations. Maybe the IT department will need to teach vendors how to manage their own.

A survey came out from CA Canada this week that follows up on a similar research from last year. The company commissioned The Strategic Counsel to talk to about 250 firms about their business priorities. Respondents to the survey included both IT managers as well as their counterparts in the rest of the business. The research explored how the two camps – IT and non-IT – felt technology was assisting their organization in addressing these priorities. Ladies and gentlemen, here are your year-over-year results:

2008:

  • 60% of IT managers surveyed rate their IT organizations as effective or very effective at aligning IT with business priorities; versus 39% of business managers.

2009:

  • 65% of the IT managers surveyed rate their IT organizations as effective or very effective at aligning IT with business priorities; versus 56% of business managers.

 

2008:

  • 56% of IT managers surveyed rate their IT organizations as effective or very effective at controlling IT costs; versus 30% of business managers

2009:

  • 63% of the IT managers surveyed rate their IT organizations as effective or very effective at controlling IT costs; versus 42% of business managers.

2008:

  • 62% of the IT managers surveyed rate their IT organizations as effective or very effective at improving service to end-users; versus 38% of business managers.

 

2009:

  • 61% of the IT managers surveyed rate their IT organizations as effective or very effective at improving service to end-users; versus 54% of business managers.

 

Faced with this more or less insignificant change in the percentages, CA Canada and the strategic counsel suggested that things may be getting better, but there is still more work to do. And without doing any further research, let me be the one to tell you that there will always be more work to do.

Instead of constantly talking (or even attempting to measure) the IT-business disconnect, we need to ask ourselves what the goal should be. Do we want the scales balanced? In other words, is the desired outcome that business managers and IT managers see equal value in technology and its effectiveness in aligning with business priorities, or that they agree on how well costs are controlled? Or should we hope that one day business managers see IT as being even more effective than IT sees itself? (That would certainly make a lot of IT managers’ lives easier.)

Even if IT departments do a better job of communicating their value and effectiveness – assuming they actually are valuable and effective – it’s not clear what the outcome will be. A bigger budget? A pat on the back? The truth is that some companies do not have their IT properly aligned with the business but still manage, somehow, to sell stuff, to get orders delivered and to make sure everyone gets paid. Alignment might make IT departments feel better about themselves, and even make the business feel better about IT, but the objective should be simply a better business.

Instead of worrying about perceptions we need to spend more time measuring the results of IT. That’s a much more challenging research project, but one that will lead to substantive change.



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