When IT is from Mars, and the business is from Venus

IT and rest of the organisation are still at loggerheads says an analyst who feels more like a psychologist trying to get the two to talk.

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Despite years of trying to fix the relationship between the IT organisation and the rest of business, communication and understanding between the two remains patchy.

IT doesn't share the same priorities and doesn't use the same metrics as the rest of the business, which can lead to conflicts, said Eveline Oehrlich, vice president at Forrester Research.

"We have been talking about IT alignment for years but it doesn't just happen you have to do something. The conversations we have with IT are very technical; business doesn't understand server uptime so the alignment [needs to be] around communication too," she said, speaking at CA Technologies' customer conference in Las Vegas.

"Unfortunately more clients come to us and say 'Our IT department has a reputation for saying no', she said, and added: "What I feel like as an analyst is a psychologist in helping people get better at connecting."

IT needs to work on alignment with the rest of the organisation, accountability and agility, she warned: "Agility means we need to do things faster - and not maintenance only."

Some IT organisations have worked hard on bridging the gap. At the same event John Watkins director of programme management services at Intermountain Healthcare explained: "I don't see any big initiatives that don't involve IT.

"It's important for us to be able to present to business in a way they can understand. We are trying to drive more and more of our capacity towards transformational projects . It's important for us to try to bridge the gap and to say that we are part of the business."

Part of this, he said, involved talking to business units to build a strategic plan for their tech needs: "We want to behave like an external service provider - to be a source of consultancy and decision support," he said.

TechRepublic attended CA World as a guest of CA Technologies.


Steve Ranger is the UK editor of TechRepublic, and has been writing about the impact of technology on people, business and culture for more than a decade. Before joining TechRepublic he was the editor of

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