Thursday, 13th August 2020

Which of Seven Sins of IT-Business Disconnect are you guilty of?

IT practitioners serve a critical role in the age of the customer, enabling organisations to win, serve, and retain business in the most efficient way possible – ideally, without any delays. In this endeavour, IT departments pride themselves on their ability to serve business end users, as they frequently meet their KPIs and are able to prove their value up to senior management. By Mark Boggia, Director of Global Partner Learning and Development, Nexthink.

However there’s a divide between senior management and IT – in fact, only 36% of business users think IT is aligned with the needs of the business, despite the fact that technology services are now embedded into every aspect of enterprise culture, from mobile device use to Wi-Fi access to cloud computing.


Meanwhile, departments like finance are considered integral to business success. CFOs are key board members, and financial strategy is always part of corporate-level decision making, while CTOs and CSOs can often be left out of these discussions.

So, why the disconnect? Let’s break down the seven digital sins that keep business and IT from seeing eye to eye.

1.Not listening properly

All of the traditional forms of ‘listening’ have been shown to be woefully inadequate mechanisms for fully understanding user sentiment and what users really think about IT.

Response rates from polls such as annual IT surveys or feedback forms are either too low or the results too easily skewed by anomalies. To ensure accurate, comprehensive and actionable insights are received, the challenges are usability, context, and critically timeliness.

Firstly, dealing with issues in a human way in context to the user behaviour, such as a pop-up saying, “I notice you’re running out of disk-space would you like me to clean up your recycle-bin” or “We’ve noticed you just accessed this service for the first time, how would you rate your experience?” will enhance your customer proximity and enable you to attain real insights. Businesses ultimately need to invest in a technology that takes real-time event data like this, that then intelligently solicits responses and acts on them.

2.Not fixing stuff

If you’re going to earn yourself a seat at the table you have to get the basics right. If your call abandonment rate on your service desk is too high, or your incident backlog is growing and your mean time to resolve is overly long then business partners will lose trust in your ability to perform the larger tasks. A huge impact can be made by getting your service desk onto a proactive footing. If you get ahead of the curve and invest in automation to handle the mundane tasks, this can give you greater focus on the larger projects that add business value where it counts.


3.Measuring the wrong things

As Peter Druker famously stated ‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure.’ For most business this means measuring and managing their source of wealth creation, typically their customers. This trend is evidenced by the exponential rise in customer experience (CX) technology in recent years. IT however tends to do almost exactly the opposite; preferring to measure what they have provisioned, the systems of productivity, rather than their customers (users). Paying more attention to the users themselves can have immense benefits, because they have the most immediate view of security, performance and support issues. It is for this reason that IT departments are realising that service level agreements (SLAs) do not tell the complete story. Experience level agreements (XLAs) are a new standard which also take into account the interactions of the users, rather than just the resolution of the problem.

4.Disrupting rather than innovating

Despite the best efforts of IT departments, the perception of IT can be as a disruptor of business rather than an innovator. Too often IT can obstruct business by failing to work in the way it is supposed to. These are the incidents which stick in the mind of employees, rather than IT’s potential to facilitate new revenue opportunities. Part of the challenge is the external pressure to deliver digital transformation initiatives and the inability of IT departments to evolve and operate in the more agile way. Only with real-time monitoring can you spot and remediate incidents in a timely manner that minimises business disruption.

5.Not communicating in value terms

Finance and IT don’t always get along because the IT department is constantly asking for more: more money for security, storage space, or certified and trained personnel. Often, it’s easy for finance to say “no” because these requests aren’t presented in a way that articulates business value. This is typically because there is no easily identifiable link between the cost and what they will be delivered. If, however, the initiatives are framed so that there is clear cause and effect between the investment and quantifiable business outcomes such as improved productivity and capacity, then this task becomes much easier.

Presenting this simply is key. For example, a balanced score card with an overall ‘score’ reflecting how the experience of IT could be improved, and an insight into what changes should be made to achieve this, such as new hardware or improved collaboration technology. With this communication IT can become a true partner for business success.

6.Having a culture of blame

The culture of an IT department is a key part of how it solves problems. Too often when things go wrong an IT department can find itself playing the blame game. The situation is not helped when monitoring solutions that should highlight and diagnose these issues operate in silos, focusing on just the network or the application, or some technical aspect of IT. This lack of insight or trust creates accountability issues within the business.

A poor IT culture can also lead to acts of self-preservation by presenting only positive ‘green light’ metrics, rather than a true picture of the state of IT. This so called ‘watermelon SLA’ can give business leaders a wholly inaccurate idea about the state of their IT.

The answer is to take an independent customer-first approach and focus on what the end user is actually experiencing and follow the evidence trail from there, rather than going to the nearest or easiest suspect.

7.Maintaining the status quo

The last sin is a lack of proactivity from leaders in dealing with these issues. Forrester Research states 90% of IT executives admit they have no idea what kind of problems their users are facing yet still wait for the phone to ring before acting. In contrast, a recent MIT research paper found that CIOs that take a leadership role in driving better user experience achieve double the innovation, double the customer satisfaction and 26% more profit than their peers. The message is clear, move on or move out when it comes to user experience.

Struggling with the seven digital sins in your organisation? Improve the connection between IT and business leaders by recognising historical patterns, shifting expectations and leveraging next-gen technology to meet end users in their element. Given the essential role that IT departments play in their organisation, it’s necessary for IT decision makers to focus their attention on minimising the current perception gap between IT and the business.

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