Business & IT Integration: Key Tips for Success

Here’s three key strategies a CIO can use to expedite the process of IT integration into the business.

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Be a Value-Added Business Partner

First, you need to ensure IT is perceived as a value-added business partner, as opposed to being “The Gatekeeper.” Many corporate clients view their IT organization as the “Land of No and Slow.” They often feel they need to directly engage vendors to get the services they need without any of the roadblocks created by IT.

Frame IT challenges — and your reaction to them — as ways you are helping the business mitigate risk.

Right now some of you are probably levitating in your seats, thinking “Sure, but what about integration issues? How about risk management? And who’s dealing with compliance?” These are all legitimate issues that cause IT to sometimes appear to be the bad guy.

The key is to frame these challenges — and your reaction to them — as ways you are helping the business mitigate risk. You should be bringing ideas and solutions to bear that help address these critical issues while still allowing your business colleagues to drive change and implement solutions that improve business outcomes.

Be Easy to Work With

A second key strategy for IT integration is to develop a reputation of being easy to work with. IT needs to be perceived as being open to new ideas, flexible in finding ways around issues, and adaptable to changing business conditions. You can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to solving business problems. Also, you can’t act like you’re the only one with good ideas!

Questions you should be asking yourself include: Are you collaborating with your business partners to find innovative solutions to thorny problems? Do you elicit their input into ways to drive change? Are you facilitating a dialogue between peers?

Read more: Are You a Data Hoarder? The Dangers of Data Hoarders in Business

Be Likable

Finally, there is the importance of being likable. Likability is a critical component of IT integration, as well as developing any successful partnership. We’ve all had the experience of working with someone who is very talented, but also a major pain in the neck.

We’ve all experienced working with someone who is very talented, but also a major pain in the neck.

In his excellent book, Likeonomics, Rohit Bhargava discusses this. Research shows that, when given the choice between working with someone who gets great results but is challenging to deal with, and someone who gets average results but is likeable, people will choose the likable person the majority of the time.

A personal anecdote: When I worked in the pharmaceutical industry, my team once ran a major project for a client in Asia. It was a mission-critical and visible endeavor, but we executed it. At the end of the project, our client shared with me that, not only did our team produce great results, but he had enjoyed working with us and looked forward to doing so again. And we did. Never underestimate the importance of being likable!

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Larry Bonfante
Larry Bonfante
Larry Bonfante is a practicing CIO and founder of CIO Bench Coach, LLC, an executive coaching practice for IT executives. He is also the author of Lessons in IT Transformation, published by John Wiley & Sons. He can be reached at [email protected].

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