According to a recent IDC research report, technology spending is shifting from Information Technology (IT) organizations to the line of business (LOB). In fact, IDC is forecasting that LOB technology spending will overtake IT sometime in 2019.
For both IT and the LOB is this trend a good or bad thing? For some who see the glass as half empty, the LOB will be encouraged to make short-term tactical technology decisions and then demand that IT fix the long-term problems that follow (a role that most IT staff members won’t relish). Or, the business might simply relegate IT to maintaining legacy systems without involving them in new application/new technology decisions.
However, if an organization desires to maintain growth, neither of these cases should be allowed to materialize. A lack of collaboration will result in inefficiencies because diverse sets of skills and talents (within both LOB and IT departments) will not be put to good use building competitive advantage. As technology budgets move outside of the IT department, excluding IT personnel from digital transformation opportunities would be counterproductive.
How LOBs can leverage the strength of IT to fuel business growth
In any business, success requires creativity, speed, collaboration, and, more than ever, access to the right data. As business has grown more complex, resources are always in short supply. There are critical areas where the IT skill set and expertise can contribute in major ways to growing the business. Below are some examples of what I mean:
- Cybersecurity – The LOB’s knowledge of security matters is often defined by specific departmental business requirements. IT personnel have a broader cybersecurity view that encompasses the entire organization. As such, IT knowledge of breaches tends to be more comprehensive and can help to better safeguard a particular department’s data assets.
- Systems integration – The easy part of applying technology to a business problem is the purchasing and installation of a solution. The hard part is to integrate the new application with the tools that the LOB already uses. A deep knowledge of systems software, networks, and linkages is indispensable in making sure that the business attains reasonable payback on new application investments.
- Enterprise-wide efficiency – Since IT personnel tend to have a more global view of enterprise-wide applications, situations such as a lack of adherence to standards and duplication of efforts are avoided. Injecting the corporate-wide view as opposed to the siloed departmental view, can help in the sharing of best practices and lessons learned. Such collaboration can result in lower project costs, faster speed of deployment, less integration work and lower support and maintenance costs.
- Maintaining a single view of the customer – As the various LOBs quickly bolt on applications to address changing market requirements, a danger exists that customer information becomes fragmented and that overall customer data quality deteriorates. In such cases, guidance from IT can provide a safety net to make sure that data is properly gathered, stored and analyzed.
As business processes and models shift, new roles are emerging
Corporate executives will be looking to derive business value from what should be a partnership of equals. But the roles and organizational structures will shift in order to optimize business performance as their organizations undergo digital transformation.
Rather than existing as separate entities, IT departments may begin to live within business organizations. Their role may evolve into that of a service broker, making sure that technology is integrated properly and the security bases are covered. In fact, as IoT becomes more prevalent across the business, two critical success factors—data management and cybersecurity management—will determine how well LOB and IT departments work as a team to address the challenges of facilitating faster and better business and purchasing decisions.
Collaboration will be key as both IT and the LOBs will need to help each other to cut through the information overload inherent to understanding the nuances of marketplace changes and the impact on technology development and deployments. Exploring macro issues and trends and micro business problems requires input from multiple viewpoints. These “homogenized” insights allow both LOB and IT stakeholders to perceive the business landscape more clearly and improve enterprise profitability.
Learn More About IT-OT Convergence
To learn more about how IT and LOB collaboration can drive digital transformation in important areas like cybersecurity, explore some of our IT- OT convergence resources.