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Examining the business-IT divide: Can’t we all just get along?

by Kristin Bent

July 8, 2011

Thomas Wailgum, former editor of CIO Magazine and, posted a blog yesterday that (almost eerily) echoes one of the major themes identified during our research for Reporting and Analytics 2011: The growing “gap” between the business and IT when determining and rolling out SAP initiatives.

The post, “CFOs, CIOs, and IT governance: Who has the real spending power,” highlights the findings of a recent Gartner survey aimed to gauge who, within an organization, boasts the most “influence” over IT initiatives and growth. The results – which have caused quite a bit of stir, according to Wailgum – indicate that “only 5 percent of CIOs can authorize IT investments” within their organizations. In other words, the power lies predominantly in the hands of the CFO and CEO when it comes to calling the IT shots.

Adding insult to injury, Wailgum continues, only 30% of survey respondents stated that “IT truly fulfills its mission” and only “32% of CFOs see CIOs as a strategic partner.” Ouch. Although Wailgum urges readers to think about the audience here – almost 95% of respondents were financial executives – that’s got to hurt.

This growing divide between the business and IT isn’t just loud and clear in Gartner’s survey. Our research survey for Reporting and Analytics 2011 was strewed with comments pertaining to this very issue. Respondents hoped to see sessions at the event that could offer best practices for increased collaboration between these two essential departments.

It’s definitely something that will be addressed on-site in November, with at least two confirmed sessions on the program that offer best practices for boosting business-IT unity. In the mean time, though, I would love to hear any thoughts you have on the topic. Why is it that these two crucial components to any successful business seem more divided than ever? And, more importantly, how do we overcome this?

As Wailgum hints toward the end of the blog, if CFOs are going to take on more responsibility determining the IT direction in their organization, they can’t do so effectively with the knowledge held by their IT teams. In other words, maybe it’s time we fully realize the benefits of “getting along.” Afterall, isn’t a business only as successful as the underlying IT strategy (and knowledge) that supports it?


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