In a recent article for InfoWorld, Bob Lewis, who also writes InfoWorld's Advice Line blog and newsletter, compares running IT like a business to a train heading in the wrong direction—a train wreck waiting to happen. Bob's advice to CIOs: "Don't act like a separate business. Do the opposite—be the most internal of internal departments. Become so integrated into the enterprise that nobody would dream of working with anyone else." We agree and point to WAN Governance as one of the most critical tools for CIOs to do the job.
As any CIO knows, priorities today are to control IT costs and to improve the alignment of IT with business objectives. The conventional wisdom among CIOs has been to run IT as a business that sells to its internal customers. This approach to IT's role within an enterprise can be counterproductive. When you try to align the IT function by running it as an internal "business function," you actually do less to solve the real business issues. Instead, you become an order taker for software products to fulfill the requests of your internal customers.
It actually distances the CIO from the enterprise's overall strategy to improve business performance. Being an order taker instead of an expert hinders the ability to use IT to solve the real issues of cost efficiency and technical productivity.
When running IT as a business function, the traditional approach is to charge your internal customers for the software and services they receive—the logic being that impacting departmental budgets will improve IT efficiency by making each business "feel" the cost of IT and therefore be less wasteful. But that only creates friction – and a short term view of value based in departmental rather than enterprise efficiency. Dan Woods' recent commentary in Forbes highlights the common fear among CIOs in sufficiently pricing their services, and recommends ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) methodologies.
WAN Governance, as part of an enterprise IT governance program, offers an alternative that increases IT's value to the enterprise—as an enabler to achieve strategic goals and the CIO's influence in the C-level decision making that sets the goals.
With WAN Governance, CIOs can control costs more effectively while instituting network and application performance metrics to help guide strategic decision making. Instead of being isolated as an in-house vendor, IT becomes more integrated into the enterprise. Priorities are no longer defined by individual line of business managers but by a senior leadership team where everyone must collaborate from a perspective of achieving enterprise goals. The CIO becomes a strategic peer within the enterprise by explaining and recommending technology that can best enable the needed changes in business processes.
You can learn more about "how to" in our White Paper on WAN Governance (registration required).
(Illustration: Stazione dei treni di Trento - David Spigiolon)