The corporate chessboard: IT vs. the rest of the business

September 29, 2015 JP Blaho

chess-775297_1280I don’t know how to play chess, but I do know that it goes beyond action and reaction. You must be able to see beyond your next move. You must be able to look at the board and foresee all the potential plays. It is a game of strategy. Having a strategy is key to success in the business world. If you can align your IT initiatives to the corporate strategy, you have a much stronger case for securing the needed approval for technology adoption.

In the past two weeks, I discussed some of the steps to follow when building a business case.

Step 1: Educate your company on the changing IT environment; and

Step 2: Illustrate these risks in a way that show measurable impact

These steps are a basic foundation for building a business case for any type of solution adoption, but we still have two more basic steps to discuss. Today, I want to discuss step 3: communicating true value through adopting new technologies, and, more specifically, through adopting a DDoS protection solution.

One of the keys to establishing value and aligning to the corporate strategy is the ability to show and communicate the value to all strategic areas of the business. Some of these key business groups are: sales, customer support, marketing, corporate communications, manufacturing/supply chain, legal and finance. Keep in mind that each group speaks business, but they may not speak IT, so communicating how IT positively impacts their business outcomes will be key in obtaining their approval. You should already be able to communicate the effects that a DDoS attack will have to these different business units, but here you need to talk about the benefits of having a solution in place. If one of the strategic goals for the company is to have all customer-facing applications in the cloud, then perhaps having a DDoS solution will eliminate the need to have an IT resource (i.e. valuable headcount that could be used elsewhere!) mitigating attacks, therefore allowing you to allocate that resource’s time to customer support issues and improving customer satisfaction scores. Aligning a solution to the business strategy, and communicating the value of this solution to the stakeholders is the third important step in building the business case.

Strategic initiatives are often a multi-year process, and their mission may not be fully defined at onset. In these instances, the best approach is to align your technology needs in a way that not only help accelerate the strategy, but also help structure the path to achieve these goals. You have an opportunity to advance the strategy and influence the path the business chooses. Going back to the example of moving the business into the cloud, it would be smart to show how implementing a DDoS solution can be used to resolve potential barriers such as firewall reconfiguration or even firewall hardware upgrades.

However, aligning your actions to corporate strategy is not enough. You must look at ways where your initiatives can help advance the business strategy, if not accelerate it. Asking to fund an initiative because it will reduce overall costs and increase efficiencies is not always a viable business case. When making business-level decisions around technology adoption, almost half of the organizations choose to do nothing. They choose the status quo over trying something different or new. Complacency is sometimes viewed as acceptable because there is comfort in not changing. I venture to guess that this number increases when a technology decision is not tied to the business strategy.

IT has always been a vehicle for change in corporate strategy. The Internet has become the largest enabler for growth, competition and innovation. Technology will always be a catalyst for enterprises, so there is an expectation to help advance the company strategy using your IT infrastructure.

Next week, I will close off this blog series in going into what happens when your decision is “no decision.” The fourth component to building a strong business case is to provide your key stakeholders with an understanding of what will happen if you do nothing.

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