IT-business alignment in the digital age

The most effective IT models are tightly aligned with desired business outcomes. Getting there may require a new IT operating model.

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Three years ago, Bill Martin stepped into the CIO role at AEG Worldwide, a sports and live entertainment company, inheriting what he saw as an outdated IT model that lacked alignment with AEG’s vision. After consulting with senior leadership about its business needs, Martin received approval for a new, multiyear IT strategy featuring a revamped IT model that directly supports AEG’s essential IT and business functions.

A key part of AEG’s IT transformation was migrating all business applications — even a proprietary event management application — to the cloud and effectively eliminating the data center. Now, the technology and operations group is focused on integration and cloud architecture. “It’s actually freed up resources to be more committed to delivering those digital services to the business, versus being focused on keeping things running,” Martin says.

Indeed, IDC research shows that many line-of-business executives are looking to IT, and their company’s CIO, for leadership on digital initiatives. In a recent IDC survey, 32 percent of line-of-business respondents said IT could best contribute to their organization’s digital transformation by helping to identify parts of the enterprise to transform using technology. Clearly, IT has a critical role to play, but to be successful IT leaders must ensure that the IT organization, along with the business, buys in to the new model.

At AEG, Martin made the case for the new IT model by walking his staff through the same presentation and numbers that he’d given to the company’s executives. Once they understood the vision, they were “hungry to modernize what they saw as a very old approach to IT,” he says. “The new approach was immediately embraced, and we haven’t looked back.”

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