Disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated trends that were already present in big data IT. Increasingly, businesses know that they have to be in the cloud to survive and thrive. But as soon as they make the move, organizations realize that business-IT alignment in the cloud can be a serious challenge.
The good news is that business leaders are now aware of the potential misalignment between business and IT, particularly in their cloud investments. Pepperdata is helping business organizations discover ways to fully maximize cloud utilization, optimize cloud spend, and derive more value from their cloud assets. More importantly, Pepperdata is enabling enterprises to ensure their cloud investments wholly support their business goals.
What is Business-IT Alignment?
Business-IT alignment is the effective and seamless adoption, integration, implementation, and management of information technology (IT) assets to achieve desired business situations, objectives, and goals. IT assets can range from hardware to cloud-based software, resources, and services.
Business to IT alignment is crucial to any modern business, especially as the majority of organizations are now moving away from dated business methodologies to new business models that emphasize digitalization of processes and enterprise-wide cloud utilization. According to Gartner, business-IT alignment is gradually becoming a focal priority, with 50% of organizations expecting increased collaboration between business teams and IT departments by 2022.
Benefits of a Successful Business-IT Alignment
IT alignment with business goals is considered successful when an enterprise’s IT initiatives meet every requirement specified by its business functions. For instance, Company A moves its major business processes to the cloud to enhance efficiencies, reduce operational costs, and driving growth—all within a particular schedule. If such a move results in achieving all targets, that’s a successful alignment of business goals and IT investment.
This alignment means every dollar spent on IT should always support a business objective. Benefits of a successful alignment include:
- Reduction of IT-related costs
- Boosting of operational value of IT assets
- Improved collaboration
- Superior visibility and monitoring into problem areas
- Fine-tuning of investments resulting in increased ROI
- Acceleration of time-to-market
- Synchronization of different departments leading to collective agility
- Upskill valuable industry knowledge to other employees
- Smarter decision making
Alignment: Challenges and Opportunities
Why is business-IT alignment so difficult? While IT plays an important role in any business, some business leaders see IT as an afterthought. Business teams and IT teams are two different departments, and sometimes they can struggle to meet in the middle. Sometimes, business leaders are not aware of their IT resources and capabilities. Meanwhile, IT departments focus too hard on IT-related metrics to support their recommendations, without considering the overall business goals.
The COVID-19 crisis effectively highlights how misalignment between business and IT occurs. Businesses had to accelerate their cloud initiatives and quickly implement them with limited thought about aligning their IT investments to their goals. This resulted in increased business-IT misalignment. 80% of enterprises already found their cloud spend to be bigger than anticipated; post-COVID, this figure is likely to be even higher.
This alignment can be a challenge, for a variety of reasons:
- Infrastructural Stumbling Blocks – A majority in the C-suite aren’t versed in IT, thus they aren’t aware of how IT systems deliver value. They fail to quickly recognize which IT solutions meet their business needs and often decide to acquire IT assets that don’t fulfill their organization’s requirements.
- Resistance to Change – CIOs shoulder the burden of convincing top management personnel to support IT-business alignment. However, mutual leadership and a shared sense of accountability between business leaders and IT departments are key to a successful business-IT alignment strategy. IT must be held accountable for their results, while CIOs must be accountable for IT.
- Achieving Strategic Agility – Business-IT alignment hinges on an organization’s prevailing IT requirements and business goals. In today’s business climate, IT requirements change constantly. Business and IT teams need to be agile and revisit existing IT strategies now and then and revise their IT frameworks to ensure business goals are continuously met.
- Balancing Conflicting Roles – According to the 2020 State of the CIO report, aligning business objectives with IT ranks second (44%) in ‘most pressing priorities’ for modern CIOs, closely following security management (45%) and trailed by IT operations/systems performance (42%). CIOs are now in charge of transformational activities, a dramatic change from their traditional job description. Their roles have transitioned from optimizing IT infrastructure to contributing to revenue and driving innovation. That said, CIOs must find the balance between traditional and transformational to ensure successful business to IT alignment.
Successfully resolving these challenges promises great rewards for persevering enterprises, particularly in the long run.
Seven Steps to Achieving Business-IT Goal Alignment
Aligning business goals with your IT and cloud strategy is difficult but not impossible. The following steps will guide you to successfully get your business goals and IT plans in line:
1. Identify existing gaps. Business and IT teams need to come together to assess their current alignment and find which areas of their cloud strategy clash with their business objectives. This can be a tricky process since they view problems in fundamentally different ways. It’s essential to facilitate better communication and eliminate barriers between departments.
2. Make strategic goals clear. After successfully discovering gaps and issues with your current alignment, you proceed to create an alignment plan. The plan must be built on your business goals. Thus, your strategic goals must be crystal clear to everyone involved. What are your strategic goals and how can IT help realize these objectives? If the goals are clear, building a plan for aligning business objectives with IT and executing it becomes less complex and more doable.
3. View IT as a powerful partner for business transformation. Most business departments see IT teams as a support group to help improve their tasks and processes, such as sales, product development, and marketing. This is a dated, siloed way of viewing IT. Instead, organizations must look at integrating IT into other business units and explore revenue streams and other areas that IT can directly impact and transform.
4. Rotate business and IT workers to cultivate understanding. By rotating IT employees within business operations and vice versa, organizations can reach business-IT alignment. This step allows for company knowledge to circulate across the enterprise. This cross-pollination of knowledge fosters better working relationships between IT teams and other departments. It breaks down silos and effectively widens their skill sets as well.
5. Aim for convergence. Business-IT alignment is not just several teams working alongside each other to achieve their respective goals. Rather than having multiple entities working separately, organizations must integrate their departments when working on business-IT tasks to empower better communication and execution. For convergence to truly happen, business departments need to acknowledge the crucial role IT plays in their own success and the overall success of the enterprise.
6. Align IT goals with business goals frequently. Businesses move to the cloud to improve their quality of service, gain interoperability, achieve massive automation, increase workload efficiency, or attain agility via methodologies like DevOps and DevSecOps.
However, you need to constantly re-assess these goals and see if they’re in line with your business’s vision. This process helps ensure that they translate successfully. It can be that your business vision needs an improvement in customer experience or retention, or requires a spike in productivity among work-at-home employees. Consequently, you may need to re-evaluate your cloud metrics—like usage, latency, and reliability—to see if they are still aligned with your business objectives.
7. Track performance and continuously optimize. Tracking the performance of your cloud assets helps you gather data to fine-tune your processes, such as rightsizing workloads in the cloud, and maximize their results. By leveraging analytics and reporting mechanisms in your platform, you can collect reliable data and set them against your strategic goals to see if your business-IT alignment efforts are spot on or off track.
The Impact of Alignment on Digital Success
The great cloud migration by businesses continues. Recent cloud usage research by Flexera reveals that 93% of enterprises across the world have adopted multi-cloud strategies. However, many are stuck in a state of digital suspension. Without the ability to connect the various new solutions they’ve adopted, they may be seeing partial or limited success.
Business enterprises find it difficult to keep their cloud spend in check. The rapid rate of their increasing cloud use makes it hard for organizations to accurately predict their cloud spend.
According to the same Flexera study, in the next 12 months, businesses anticipate their cloud costs increasing by 47%. It’s now imperative for enterprises to get a solid grip on their cloud forecasting and cost optimization.
By aligning your IT and business strategies, your organization can effectively create better and more optimal cloud strategies that enable full maximization of your cloud budget.
Pepperdata: Maximizing Your Cloud Business-IT Alignment
Cloud-based big data stack optimization solutions utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning to find and implement ideal configurations to ensure optimal performance of your big data and IT environments, its components, and processes. With Pepperdata, your IT assets and other big data investments perform to help achieve your business goals.
IT Cost Optimization. Pepperdata delivers a comprehensive and crystal clear view of your performance and costs. Real-time operational metrics from applications and infrastructure are gathered and analyzed to discover effective ways to fully maximize the value of your big data stack investments while keeping cost manageable and driving bigger ROI.
IT Chargeback. Pepperdata chargeback reporting continuously captures the performance data for every workload running within your big data environment. With comprehensive and detailed visibility into CPU and memory usage, Pepperdata allows your IT administrators to accurately track, gauge, attribute, and charge to the right parties or departments costs of IT usage. Knowing all the factors driving costs helps in creating, optimizing, and implementing cloud budgets.
Capacity Planning. With Pepperdata, IT teams can dive deep into cloud usage, collect and analyze all essential metrics to determine your current capacity needs, and forecast the compute resources your cloud infrastructure will require in the future. Effective and precise capacity planning reduces your business risks substantially and gives you total control over your cloud spend.
Autoscaling. Your cloud infrastructure’s performance needs to be consistently optimal to ensure growth and better ROI. This means injecting extra resources when the platform is straining to ensure SLAs are met. To make sure resources are always available, enterprises overprovision. However, underutilized and unconsumed resources lead to runaway costs. Managed Autoscaling with Pepperdata Capacity Optimizer analyzes the resource usage of each node in real time. This feature effectively optimizes the use of CPU, memory, and I/O resources on big data clusters while reducing the need to overprovision, thus impacting cloud costs.