How IT And Business Have Become Dependent On Each Other?
Right from the time Internet has come into prominence, businesses have tried to align their strategies to include the benefits of Internet and with this introduction of Information Technology, or IT, things took off on a serious note. Over the years, the IT industry went through serious transformations, followed by ground-breaking innovations until it became an essential part of business. And both IT and business are dependent on each other, and are aligned with each other to ensure that both grow.
Here are some of the business goals that most companies are striving to achieve and how IT can help achieve them
Improved Customer Service
It is the aim of every business to provide excellent service because customers expect it and companies strive hard to provide it. Customers need prompt, honest and accurate service and when they do not get it, they do not become loyal anymore. Prompt communication and response is a must.
IT supports this endeavour by providing seamless access to different channels of communication.
Compliance with necessary regulations
It is mandatory for businesses to align themselves with legal compliances as and when they are issued. They cannot afford to wait this out because it could cause their business to shut down. And this becomes extremely critical in the case of payment security standards as well.
IT supports in this arena because whenever new regulations are made, it allows for quick changes to be made, and works in conjunction with the already made regulations seamlessly.
Service continuity and product availability
Customers warm up towards companies that instantly cater to their demands. If they cannot get access to your products, then they will feel that you are not really user-friendly, and would tend to gravitate towards businesses that would fulfill their demands instantly. It is only through proper IT infrastructure would you to be able to keep tabs on what’s happening at the customer’s end. The new trend is not to depend merely on the sales personnel to conduct the sales, but on technology as well.
Ensure than projects get delivered on-time and on-budget
IT has actually made things easier for companies. They can check beforehand if their goals are reasonable or not, and whether they need to accommodate easily attainable goals with the help of IT. They can even estimate project deadlines, and provide reasonable options that would help in TMM (Time to Market), so companies can actually launch on the date they planned.
The challenges faced in IT alignment
All said and done, business do go through hurdles when they try to align with IT. This could be different for different companies, but there are issues in which the challenges could remain the same. Let’s examine those areas:
Aligning business and IT strategies
When business processes and aligned seamlessly with IT, it leads to efficient processes, faster response times, production of better products and services, cost reductions, highly efficient supply chain management and so on. To ensure maximum alignment with IT, business should integrate IT strategy the same time as business goals are developed. To ensure the alignment is seamless, every aspect of IT strategy must support the company’s business goals. This will help the company realise key business goals and objectives.
Interestingly, with the coming of Internet, boundaries have diminished and you can work with people living in other countries as easily as you are working with someone from your own office. But then comes the problem of cultural alignment. The personalities of the people from different beliefs should get matched. Cultural alignment entails being sensitive to the ‘big picture’ attitude of the company, the different personalities within the company as opposed to the larger group and finally, to the technology and technology-related problems within the company.
The complexity in custom application development also spiralled the problems faced by business enterprises. They found lesser and lesser shared services models, even in the field of HR and finance. Indeed, there are some underlying capabilities that are in common with other units, but when the demand for custom application development grew, then the IT architecture landscape worked overtime to keep up with the changing regulatory and marketplace conditions. Other than the overall business requirements, there was a huge disparity in other aspects of business. And when the costs and resources became strained or constrained, the IT departments within each companies struggled hard to cater to business goals.
In clear terms, operational alignment means how IT helps in fulfilling the business goals, or how technology can be pushed to reach functional goals. IT bridges the gap in the sales, marketing, finance and supply chain.
Hiring the right people would help in the progression of IT
Appointing the right person at the company can solve a number of problems, especially someone who knows to handle the budgetary and decision making problems, know the field of IT very well and understand the business goals equally well. He must be able to handle political issues within the company and should have the business acumen and the clout to look after the IT integration challenges in order to take this forward.
Now comes the million dollar question
How aligned is your business?
Here are the main components that make up a properly aligned business strategy
Does the business strategy fulfilling the enterprises/company’s purpose? Consider this.
How are the processes carried out in the company. What is the resource architecture for this?
How well can the resources of your company be developed to fulfill the goals of the company through organizational capability
Can the management systems drive the performance of the resources to its maximum potential?
You can discuss these aspects with your team, and examine the importance of how IT can make a difference in all these arenas. A business’s strategies will become successful only if it can be flexed and morphemed to accommodate future demands and expectations of the clients.
Interesting links about the topic:
How Does Informatin Technology Improve a Business?
Top 3 Ways Information Technology Improve Efficiency And Effectiveness Of Business Processes
Top Ways Information Technology Improve Your Business
Pictures: Flicker.com / Search Engine People Blog/ NASA Goddard Space
The author: Reema Oamkumar is engaged as a thought leader at www.Software-Developer-India.com which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.