Written by Christoph Goldenstern - on an observation and presentation by Mark Smalley – the IT Paradigmologist

During the past three weeks, I had the pleasure to participate/visit three different events on two continents – The Open Group event in Amsterdam, Fusion17 in Orlando and the Kepner-Tregoe Gold Client Event in Cologne. The first two focused entirely on IT, while the latter was oriented to operational excellence in the digital age.

One common theme was the state of Business-IT Alignment. For some time now, IT has focused less on its agenda and has aligned itself more with the business, its users and their needs. At our client forum in Cologne, Mark Smalley shared with us a snapshot of the gaps that still remain.

We clearly have some way to go as “business people” and “IT people”. We are still struggling to create common strategies, approaches and a joint language that thoroughly integrate our efforts. Based on Mark’s research and the group’s discussion, this should start with jointly owned outcomes and goals, and more continuous engagement of the business in the IT transformation process and of IT setting the innovation agenda with the business.

The key question Mark raised for me, however, was whether it’s about alignment or ultimately about convergence? What part of IT should de decentralized to the various lines of business, and what part should remain centralized and largely self-contained? If, in the age of digital transformation, the key business enabler is IT (meaning IT and the business are the same), then any alignment conversation will fall short. Instead, we need more integration – integration of business and IT strategy and needs, business and IT processes, business and IT capabilities, and business and IT structures. Ultimately, we must focus on co-creation of true value and respond quicker to customers and users.

At Kepner-Tregoe, we have strong opinions, of course, about how this relates to the world of process improvement and problem solving. In the context of IT Service Management, we believe it must start (and end) with the customer/user experience, his or her productivity and satisfaction. Hence, any approach to address our customers’ IT challenges (events, incidents, problems – whatever you want to call them) must look beyond individual processes that don’t connect to the customer and, instead, look at the overall “value stream,” as the emerging Reference Architecture of IT4IT calls it – “Detect to Correct”!

In our work with clients, we regularly notice that traditional IT processes, such as Incident, Problem and Change Management, are under different leadership, with different priorities and several interfaces – amongst each other and with the end-user. What is often missing is the end-to-end customer perspective and focus on the actual value delivered: resolving the actual client issue faster and permanently to maximize IT availability and improve continuously the underlying systems and capabilities.

The question for you, therefore, is: Are you still aligning or are you already converging? Learn more about IT and service excellence here

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