Blurring the lines between Business and IT

Blurred Lines

Recently, we spoke with Nigel Thomas, Strategic Account Director of Aerospace & Defence at Salesforce. He believes that the delivery of IT systems which create tangible value is now the primary focus of CIOs, rather than using IT systems which help enable value. Clearly, IT departments are now having a more prominent role when it comes to the implementation of transformed business models. Those in IT are now more aligned with the business, no longer a department left out of important decision making, and are readily identified as a key component used to drive value. Nigel rightly noted that value is integral for the sustainability of businesses and goes hand in hand with creating the resilience to stay alive, especially during the pandemic.         

In an organisation, the CIO isn’t the only one carrying the IT baton anymore, the emergence of hybrid roles such as a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) has brought order to the blurred lines between business and IT that organisations are experiencing today. The individuals in these new roles are able to look at these blurred lines through a different lens, they’re able to say “okay, I might be in the ecosystem, but actually I’m aligned with the business and I’m all about driving digital transformation”. What we mean here by digital transformation doesn’t necessarily mean digitisation of processes or even enterprise-wide transformation, we’re talking about using data to drive business value in the marketplace. The conversation that materialises here between the CDO and the CIO has some necessary tension, but it is driving a completely different view of “who are the people I need in my IT ecosystem to create value for the business and maybe even keep us alive”. Organisations need to be asking themselves “do we have the right infrastructure that allows us to pivot from the thing we were doing yesterday to the things we need to be doing tomorrow to stay ahead of our competitors, be relevant in the market and be relevant to customers”.

Business & IT
“There's an element of IT engagement now that perhaps wasn't there before”
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Nick Heath
Managing Director, Aviya

Previously, the conversation around renewal of software licenses would be as simple as a phone call from a sales director to an individual in IT procurement to remind them to renew the licenses. Now, it’s a completely different story, IT are becoming heavily involved in those decisions and are much more interested around what their roles with regards to these agile systems of engagement. Whilst at one end of the spectrum we have a low barrier to entry ‘start small think big’ approach, an approach eminently possible with Salesforce, at the other end we have a total cost of ownership (TCO) which IT departments are being measured on more and more. 

The challenge for CIO’s now is that the business wants to decide on a tool, an app for instance, and they want the CIO to deliver it tomorrow with all the surrounding change management, optimisation and adoption that goes with that. However, they want to be able to reserve the right to change their minds in a year’s time. IT are now saying “well hang on a second, we need to be involved in these decisions if we’re going to be held accountable for the TCO because you’re coming through our ecosystem, into our supply base, but you’re also going to be determining value on a much shorter time frame”. IT are now stepping forward and has to be part of that value proposition into the business. They may not want to be part of that conversation and as Nigel says “may be brought kicking and screaming into it” but it is imperative that they are.

The lines are blurring between business and IT and the advent of digital directors who properly sit between the two will hopefully provide the necessary conduit to accelerate value add from the IT department. The question remains as to what implications this may have on businesses and how can they manage these developments.


To learn more check out our “Salesforce In A Nutshell” podcast episode where Nigel joins Nick to discuss all things Salesforce, the changing face of CRM and the role IT departments play in this and get his take on the Salesforce AppExchange.