Business Analysts: Why The CIO's Future Depends on Them

Business analysis is the absolute most important competency for an IT organization. It is the very heart and soul of the value IT is meant to bring to the business. Despite the best intentions, many CIOs have lost this critical skill in their organization and they are quickly forgetting what it really entails.

For years CIOs (or should I say, IT managers) were chastised for being too reactive, too technical, too tactical. In an effort to address this "shortcoming," CEOs and their consultants schooled IT managers on how to think strategically. And what fine students you have become.

During the last few years (which we all know have been very tough on IT budgets) IT leaders the world over have put in place a number of strategies to maximize efficiencies, drive cost savings and generally improve the speed and responsiveness of IT.

Unfortunately, the highly lauded strategies of yesterday have had some very negative consequences for CIOs and their teams. Consequences that are so significant that, if we don't do something about them soon, will relegate the CIO (and the IT group overall) to a position of vastly diminished relevance to the business. I'll explain.

Strategic IT management: Unexpected side effects

In the quest for ever-improving efficiency and customer responsiveness, CIOs the world over have applied three basic strategic themes.

  1. Standardize around key packages: Avoid custom applications like the plague. Go for standardized software. And what's more, if it can be SAP or Oracle, even better. Build a focus and competency in a specific application suite and work it.

  2. Outsource, outsource, outsource: Wherever possible, outsource to a third party. ASP, MSP, BPO, consultants, bodyshop. Whatever could be found that offered a cost and speed advantage to doing it in house.

  3. Get "tight" with the business side: In order to get closer to the business side of the operation, improve understanding, shorten implementation time frames and increase accountability, CIOs made a number of organizational changes. Chief among them: creating the IT-business liaison role.

This article was originally published on 03-20-2012
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