by Vijay Ramachandran

From the Editor-in-Chief: Whither Outcomes

Opinion
Oct 21, 20133 mins
BudgetingBusinessGovernment

Outcome-based IT opens purse-strings like a charm, but could it throw the holistic nature of your strategy?

Vijay Ramachandran is the Editor-in-Chief of IDG Media – See more at: http://www.cio.in/opinions/editor-chief-source-agnostic#sthash.cIXiibhP…

What does bother me about outcome-based IT is that, like chargebacks, it has the potential to skew the mix toward only those projects that have offer tangible and hard ROI and those departments that are focused in that direction like production or sales.

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. —Henry Ford Honest admission: I hate with a will the phrase ‘business-IT alignment’. In almost every single CIO forum that I’ve attended in the past decade its come up and I’ve cringed in response (and, I suspect so have you). A search on Google presents upward of 20 million results for us to ponder. While, on the subject, have you ever seen business-sales or business-finance or business-HR alignment come up for discussion? Ever?

Yet, report after informed report, survey after learned survey continues to point this elusive juxtaposition being the holy grail that CIOs are or ought to be after. Not so long ago, over an excellent single malt, a CIO and I were exchanging bitter notes on business-IT alignment (BITA), when he let out a sigh of exasperation and quipped: “BITA ought to be treated like the four-letter word it is.”

The other issue that miffs me no end is the assumption that the onus for the alignment somehow devolves to the CIO. Where’s the skin in the game, eh Business? Of course, there are realities that we have to confront. The economic mood of the past four years needs more than lithium to stabilize it. A growing chorus is chanting the mantra of outcome-based IT, believing that it increases the rigor and simplifies the process of justification, gets business truly involved and opens the budgetary purse-strings like a charm.

That belief is not without merit. In the past, most organizations have seldom revisited the ROI figure for a project (given the number of spec changes, it’s difficult to stick the primary assumptions in any case). And, that has diluted the business value and in turn the strategic value of IT. What does bother me about outcome-based IT is that, like chargebacks, it has the potential to skew the mix toward only those projects that have offer tangible and hard ROI and those departments that are focused in that direction like production or sales.

What do you think?