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We see this value-based alignment issue everywhere. When Forrester Research asked the CIO members of the Forrester Leadership Boards to select a subject for their quarterly CIO Group report, an overwhelming number chose communicating IT's business value to the CIO's peers. And when Forrester asked its customer advisory council to choose the theme for the 2009 Forrester Technology Forum, again, the responses were striking. The majority chose IT's value proposition as the meeting's focus.
CIOs don't proactively drive a business-value point of view. Many CIOs may address business value when they start conversations with business execs, but those discussions devolve quickly into IT issues. Others drive business value themselves but don't hold direct reports accountable. And still others wait for business to ask them to participate in business conversations instead of proactively putting business on the table.
So what's the answer? In recent best-practice research for Forrester's CIO Group, we found that leading IT execs make business-value communications integral to everything IT does.
They assure that IT's internal practices add business value to their focus, they transform IT's interactions with other business organizations and external partners into business interactions, and the CIOs self-identify as the leaders in this communication (see graphic on next page).
The internal IT practices identified by the best-practice CIOs we interviewed drive business value as the basis of IT's activities. They begin with IT's metrics. Instead of communicating IT's operations excellence, their metrics track what the business cares about; they measure IT's performance as part of business activities, like representing IT-transformation projects in terms of competitive advantage or tying IT shared services to business results.