IT and Business: Breaking the Communication Barriers

by HSG on May 02, 2017 in Articles from Software Fans

Information Technology (IT) tools are here to support your business in the global market. Effective communication is key for IT and business experts to collaborate effectively in search of solutions. Consulting, reaching out for help to a third-party, can bridge the gap between your business marketing experts and IT operations experts, especially with the emergence of big data analytics and its implication on the global market. Having the right consultants equipped with business knowledge and data technology expertise can make a difference.

Your marketing organization is probably familiar with digital tools and conducting global research. Its results can uncover the journey customers take to purchase your products or use your services. It can highlight the pain points and frictions that prevent their experiences with you to be delightful and amazing. Armed with this knowledge and beautiful compelling presentations, marketing executives expect that IT operations leaders will translate these insights into actions.

But people in IT operations are too involved in meeting key performance indicators that have nothing to do with the end customers. Meeting requirements of faster and cheaper don't translate very well into customer satisfaction. A classic breakdown in communication is described in a Harvard Business Review article, “A Technique to Bridge the Gap Between Marketing and IT.” The author goes on to describe how a new CIO at a bank found IT to be focused on the internal organization as their customers, rather than the real end customer. Moreover, no one was looking at the incident reports which clearly showed that incidents were increasing. And nobody looked at what these incidents were doing to the bank’s customers. The startling and scary numbers of incidents were caught and addressed and brought down from 1,000 to 600 or (40%) and later to 450 per week.

Surprisingly, these type of seemingly isolated scenarios are still being discovered within organizations presently, sometimes internally, and through third party insights such as consultants.  By engaging consultants to provide a perspective based on what they’ve experienced before, they can often bring new and innovative ideas or possible challenges to the table that an internal processes probably wouldn’t have been able to see on their own.  Often, third party input can help to provide the translation needed to go from marketing research results into actions that IT operations can understand and make sense in their high-performance culture. When companies understand and use this knowledge to reassess how to improve their customer experiences, they work backward from what customers want to achieve significantly higher improvements. 

IT and business management are more and more being asked to move away from their traditional roles, such as IT being the "technology infrastructure gatekeeper", and instead become enablers across the enterprise of effective collaboration, big data consumers, and key players in driving desired business outcomes. Marketing leaders look to technology as a way to facilitate the customer's journey and his positive experience of it, bring more clients, and meet increasingly higher loyalty goals. They rely on IT projects to enable big data-based behavioral targeting anywhere in the global market. This means projects to analyze search engine results, improve website personalization and optimization, and building of mobile applications for a more personal experience. All these are projects that consultants with their communication, consulting and technical expertise are well prepared to help in order to bridge the expectation gap between IT and other business organizations.

In order to meet these 21st-century business challenges, Information Technology organizations have been transitioning from waterfall stage-gate project management approaches to agile development. The stage-gate method applies a step-by-step approach where waiting, reviewing and approving are required before moving to the next step in the project. Agile management emphasizes collaboration, no decision hierarchies, and few people roles for making quick, customer-focused small changes over time to deliver solutions that delight and amaze customers. Agile development has allowed many businesses to respond quickly to changing customer desires and expectations. But moving to continuous delivery is a struggle requiring focused, dedicated teams that are not well suited to the traditional matrix organization where people are resources whose time must be "chopped" into many pieces and shared among many projects. Agile teams meet frequently as often as daily but never waiting more than a week to do so.

Marketing people are externally focused. IT people are internally focused. The first works with customer emotions. The second works to increase efficiency. Big data analytic tools are used by the first and supported by the second. Consultants can be the glue that helps both come together in effective collaborations that deliver positive business outcomes in both global and local markets.

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