IT’s new imperative: Partnering to shape the future

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Anyone who's spent any time in IT has heard the call to collaborate with business. Here's some advice on what that means, why it's crucial for IT going forward and how to do it.

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Consultancy McKinsey has a new survey about what it means when IT groups actively collaborate with the business to shape a strategy that leverages technology. As you might guess, IT organizations that do that successfully perform better on a number of measurements that are important to the C-suite, including better delivery of core services.

Thing is, though, while survey respondents from both IT and the business side of the house believe that's the way IT should work, few said IT plays that role right now.

Some 709 executives -- 422 with a technology focus, and 287 who are C-level execs representing other functional specialties -- took the survey in October 2015.

"The results suggest that the pressure on IT to perform will only increase with the growth of third-party services (such as cloud and infrastructure as a service) and of digitization," the survey analysis says. "With digital initiatives, too, the companies where IT plays a partner role are further along in both implementation and achieving business impact. "

McKinsey May IT partnering survey

McKinsey's Global Survey about what it means for IT to partner with the business.

When IT partners with the business, "the benefits are far-reaching -- and striking." McKinsey looked at 14 specific dimensions of IT's performance and found that partnership has an impact on its effectiveness in each one . Thirty-five percent of executives at companies where IT is a partner, for example, say the IT function works very or completely effectively with the business to develop new capabilities; only 14% say the same at companies where IT is a consultant or supplier.

So what is keeping organizations from establishing IT as an active partner? Technology execs most often identify weaknesses in IT's operating model (how the function is structured, run, and managed overall), followed by a lack of clarity about IT's priorities and role.

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