\u201cYou can choose not to learn how to run IT as a business, but I guarantee you that your replacement will know how." \u2013Ramon Baez, CIO, HP\nOver the past five years there\u2019s been a significant shift in the number of IT executives who not only run IT as a business, but are doing it really well. The results speak for themselves: Hundreds of millions in savings, adoption of disruptive platforms, agility in acquiring and merging businesses, large-scale shifts in capital from run to grow, new revenue streams from commercializing previously internal assets\u2026the list goes on.\nFor most of us who grew up in IT over the past 25 years, the words \u201cWe need to run IT like a business,\u201d have become a sort of ubiquitous catch phrase to address the capability divide between IT executives and the consumers of technology. It is a tacit acknowledgement that we, as technology leaders, are often perceived as lacking the basic business acumen to lead an organization that drives transformation, enables disproportional market growth, and delivers a stable backbone at market competitive prices.\nMy next few posts will explore four common traits of leaders who have made the conscious choice to run IT as a business using the discipline of technology business management (TBM). Their stories are compelling and the lessons learned along their journeys are worth noting.\nBefore diving in, it\u2019s worth a moment to discuss why this is even an issue. There are many other corporate functions that grapple with similar challenges, such as HR, Finance or Procurement. Much has been written about the value questions plaguing internal functions.\u00a0 Yet, IT sits in a unique position and draws particular scrutiny as both an exponentially larger driver of cost and the perceived gatekeeper for innovation. This is not to say that other functions are not investing in creating more holistic view of themselves as a proactive, customer-centric partners, but IT carries the burden to deliver both game-changing technology while running a best-in-class cost profile.\nIn each case, IT often lacks a well-articulated story in a language the consumer (user) can understand.\u00a0 To further complicate things, IT doesn\u2019t have a single set of industry standard business models and supporting platforms like the other functions. As Tom Murphy, CIO of University of Pennsylvania states, "The leading models and frameworks for governing IT are IT-driven. They have \u2018IT\u2019 in their names. This really is a big problem. Like never before, we need to be an integral part of our business, not merely a service provider to it.\u201d\nTo balance the twin priorities of both running and growing the business, nearly all CIOs are being asked by their customers to make a fundamental shift in their organizational commitments.\u00a0 IT being \u201cbusiness-aligned\u201d is not only a dated concept, it is risky one that speaks to the division of supplier and consumer.\u00a0 At its heart, running IT as a business speaks to an organization\u2019s intentional recognition that technology is largely democratized and requires a transparent IT function that visions, partners, orchestrates, and integrates for the benefit all consumers. With more than 40 percent of technology spending now driven from outside the traditional IT organization by non-technologists, there has never been a greater need for a collaborative technology leader to facilitate investment decisions that deliver value to the enterprise while protecting the brand from uncontrolled risk.\nWithin the \u201cRun Portfolio,\u201d leading CIOs are promising to continuously optimize costs for performance and create sustained value by rationalizing the environment. To fuel business change, leading CIOs are redeploying funds previously utilized on running operations toward innovation product portfolios -- while transforming the IT operating model to be more agile in response to business and regulatory change.\nAs we unpack the common traits of successful CIOs in this series, I fully expect the next generation of technology executives will wonder what all the fuss is about. Most analysts and research agrees that governing the return on technology investments will be at the top of most board and shareholder agendas for the next 10 years.\nAfter all, running IT as a business is just common sense.