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How Business-Led IT Drives Better Adoption, Integration, and Innovation

How Business-Led IT Drives Better Adoption, Integration, and Innovation

Steven Dunston
By
Steven Dunston

The explosion of SaaS has fundamentally shifted buying and selling in the technology industry. Buyers have thousands of vendors to choose from, and IT no longer controls most technology purchases. The rise of the non-technical buyer has further accelerated cloud adoption.

So what does this mean for IT’s role? If you’re an IT professional in a modern enterprise, you are probably either considering or in the process of implementing a business-led IT framework.

What is Business-Led IT? Why Now?

IT leaders must prepare their teams to be not only stewards of the company’s technology and data, but to be consultants to their non-technical peers. In an era when every company is moving to cloud apps, cloud apps on their own are no longer a differentiator. So merely shepherding those apps is not enough. Now it is the businesses with world-class implementation and processes that rise to the top.

The primary goal of business-led IT is to move from focusing on competent task completion, to an equal partnership where IT is a business liaison to their functional peers.

Here is the maturity model:

Growth Stages for Business-led IT.png

To illustrate how a business-led approach can dramatically increase the value that IT brings to the business, let’s consider a scenario.

Meet Marketing Matt and IT Iris! Matt is a marketing manager with reporting responsibilities. Matt reports weekly on campaign metrics, and monthly on marketing ROI. He compiles this data manually in a spreadsheet. Matt has been asked to use a new field for revenue numbers in his reports, and so he has a request for Iris.

Business-led-IT.jpg
Marketing & IT, BFFs

Growth Stage 1: Competent Task Management

Marketing Matt’s Request:

“I need the “Booking Amount” opportunity field but I don't see it in the SFDC data warehouse. Is this something you can help me with?”

IT Iris’ response: “What is the name of the field? Has finance approved this? When do you need this completed? Who needs access to the data?”

Growth stage1 — the ability to competently manage a flow of tasks and tickets — is still an aspiration for some IT teams. This is triage helpdesk as a way of life.

While many of these tasks are critical for business success, some are less important than others, some may be inappropriate for IT to fulfill, and some others may be irrelevant. But for an IT individual contributor in the day-to-day trenches, it can be hard to know the difference, and she may not feel empowered to question or deny a request.

Growth Stage 2: Service Catalog

Marketing Matt’s Request:

Requested Data Warehouse Addition.

Field: Opportunity Booking Amount.

API Name: Opp_Booking_Amt

Requested Date: August 1, 2017

Ticket Owner: Matt Johnson

Reason for Request: This is the new approved field for reporting on new sales bookings in marketing ROI reports.

IT Iris’ response: This is complete.

This is a big step in the growth of an IT team. Because Matt has a better idea of whom to ask and how to make a request for an addition to the data warehouse, he can provide more of the data that IT needs to complete the task.

Working with their internal customers, IT teams in growth stage 2 publish a list of discrete services that they are able to deliver, ideally with an SLA (service level agreement) that sets the right expectations for resources needed, acceptance criteria, and time to deliver.

IT is still at the whip end of most projects, getting requests long after a business unit has made the strategic decisions about how to proceed with their initiative. But with a published service catalog, these business unit stakeholders should have a better idea of what pieces of their project can be delivered by IT, and what data they need to provide to expedite delivery.

Growth Stage 3: Understanding the Business

Marketing Matt’s Request:

Meeting Invite to discuss upcoming revenue reporting changes.

Agenda: We are being asked to report on revenue differently beginning next quarter. We are able to pull most of the data we need, but can’t get the Opportunity Booking Amount out of the data warehouse. We’d like to show you what we’re after so you can help us get the right data for our report.

IT Iris’ Response, after meeting: We will be able to meet your deadline of August 1 for the new revenue reporting. As discussed, we can also increase the snapshot from monthly to weekly to allow for weekly campaign report.

In this middle phase of implementing Business-led IT, greater understanding and rapport begin to be established. This may happen with a recurring stakeholder meeting, where a department like marketing can brief IT managers on their KPIs and upcoming projects. One or more of those IT managers may be identified as a point of contact for that department, and would be responsible for understanding their overall goals, challenges, and processes.

In this phase, Matt gets additional value from the relationship because Iris understands that she can also help him with his weekly campaign reporting.

Growth Stage 4: Challenger Mode

Marketing Matt’s Request:

Meeting Invite to discuss upcoming revenue reporting changes.

Agenda: We are being asked to report on revenue differently beginning next quarter. We are able to pull most of the data we need, but can’t get the Opportunity Booking Amount out of the data warehouse. We’d like to show you what we’re after so you can help us get the right data for our report.

IT Iris’ Response after meeting: As discussed, most of the data in your spreadsheet report is already available in the data warehouse. Once we add the new bookings field, we can help you automate the report in Tableau, which will save you from having to manually build the report each week.

In growth stage 4, because IT understands the goals of the marketing team — and has been asked to consider the end goal — IT can offer a better outcome to their internal customer.

It starts with a questioning of the assumption that led to the creation of the request. In this case, Matt’s assumption is that he will keep building a manual report, which is prone to error, and a waste of his time, compared to automating the report.

Growth Stage 5: Business Liaison

Hey Matt, this is Iris. I know you’ve been asked to incorporate revenue numbers into your marketing reports. I have some thoughts on how we might be able to get you a predicted revenue number a lot more quickly, which could make it easier to predict which campaigns are working better. Do you have time this Tuesday?

In growth stage 5, IT becomes a consultant, fully versed in the goals of the business team, and thinking a few steps ahead to make them more efficient and productive. Iris in IT has context that Matt doesn’t, and once she has a full understanding of what Matt is asking, she can get to the “why.”

In this case, reporting on revenue isn’t the end goal. It’s a step toward better understanding of which marketing activities are working. Once Iris understands the end goal, and has established a peer relationship with Matt, she can think ahead to what he will need technically once his business goals change.

How Usermind Can Help

IT teams who can partner with their business functional units to achieve these results can thrive in the cloud app era. This means shifting the perspective from tasks and projects to driving the vision of the connected, digital enterprise.

Usermind’s SaaS product helps businesses embrace the connected digital era by integrating apps to provide a unified layer for data, automation, and analytics. Learn more by requesting a demo.

Steven Dunston
Steven Dunston
Sr. Director of Marketing at Usermind

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