IT-Business Collaboration Fuels the Future of Applications

January 08, 2021

Contributor: Katie Costello

Champion strategic IT-business collaboration through technological, organizational and cultural change when delivering future applications.

CIOs and IT leaders now enjoy a deeper, two-way relationship with the business as a result of the changing business needs spurred by COVID-19. They are educating senior stakeholders on the value of IT, especially during times of crisis, and assuming leadership of higher-impact initiatives. 

On the flip side, business leaders are also assuming more accountability for IT projects. The enterprise’s path to the future runs through IT, and boards and CEOs know it.

“ The future of applications depends on the collaboration between IT and business units ”

These new realities illustrate how traditional boundaries between business and IT are becoming increasingly blurred. After all, a composable enterprise is only possible when business capabilities are assembled and combined to meet changing business needs. 

This is especially true among application leaders: The future of applications depends on the collaboration between IT and business units. 

As business leadership takes a more strategic role in sourcing, procuring, implementing, delivering and maintaining applications, application leaders must look to adopt a new, strategic approach to vision and strategy that involves delivering a composable enterprise.

Read more: The Future of Business Is Composable 

A new Gartner survey reveals that most companies planning for the future of applications and composable enterprise are choosing to increase, rather than decrease, collaboration between central IT teams and lines of business (LOBs). This trend is further amplified by COVID-19 despite its financial and disruptive impact. 

Here are three key take-aways for application leaders.

Collaboration between IT and business is instrumental to successful application delivery

Companies that succeed in digital business are rethinking the way they operate. Gartner research shows that effective organizations have set up “fusion teams” — multidisciplinary teams that blend technology and other types of domain expertise that are often designed to deliver products rather than projects.

This trend is consistent within application delivery, specifically, with 93% of survey respondents reporting moderate to comprehensive collaboration between central IT and other LOBs. Distributed, simultaneous digital business initiatives with broad-based involvement from both IT and LOBs yield better results than centralized, sequential approaches.

Fuse business and IT teams so that they have shared accountability for business outcomes by tying incentives and performance metrics to joint success criteria. Bring business-led IT out of the shadows by offering tiered engagement options for business partners who want to pursue their own technology initiatives. Taken together, these steps will accelerate digital business transformation.

Security, technology and integration are barriers to IT-business collaboration on application delivery

Even though IT-business collaboration is a growing and unstoppable force, it is not without its challenges. According to the survey results, security, technology and integration are the top three barriers to collaborations between LOBs and IT on application delivery. 

“The increasing replacement of operational technology infrastructure with IT systems is opening new vulnerabilities and risks,” says Saniye Alaybeyi, Sr Director Analyst, Gartner. “As remote, cross-functional work rises, so too does the use of collaboration technology, which is not always met with employee satisfaction.”

Suggested recommendations for application leaders to tackle each barrier include:

  • Security: Create a single security governance structure to support both IT and LOB domains, and balance their requirements.
  • Technology: Address deployment challenges to ensure better visibility and connectivity between employees.
  • Integration: Address integration challenges using the most suitable integration products, including but not limited to enterprise service bus (ESB), integration platform as a service (iPaaS) and robotic process automation (RPA). 

COVID-19 is likely to increase IT-business collaboration

The strength of IT’s connections with LOB stakeholders and the capacity for innovation with new solutions are fundamental to the reactivation of the economy, and indeed for the survival of many organizations during and after COVID-19. 

A significant number of respondents (64%) indicate that IT leaders are collaborating more with their LOB counterparts during the COVID-19 crisis. In contrast, only 20% of respondents indicate they are experiencing or expect to experience reduced IT-business collaboration.

Gartner recommends leveraging the closeness that COVID-19 is driving. Continued digital transformation is best accomplished when technical and business values are considered together.

“The success of the future of applications depends on organizations’ ability to bring business and IT together for collaborative and continuous creative work,” says Alaybeyi.

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