In a rapidly evolving digital landscape the partnership between business and IT is one of the most crucial aspects of businesses maintaining competitiveness and even in gaining a competitive edge.
Even in medium-sized businesses the IT infrastructure is undoubtedly complex, resulting in the IT team talking a different language to that which is understood by the business or financial team. However, there is no reason why any business should not be able to understand and measure the value IT can deliver to the business bottom line.

Chris Welham, executive director of Space Age Technologies says, “The business-IT divide has been spoken and written about for a number of years. It exists in small, medium and large organisations worldwide and, as a result, investments made in IT in the past have not yielded the expected business value– further contributing towards the gap between business and IT.”

Space Age Technologies recently launched “Relevant IT” – a new approach that helps business leaders and IT see eye to eye in achieving company goals. Thereby availing the tools for business to measure the value of their IT resources and specifically on how to use IT for the long term benefit and profit of the business.

The Relevant IT framework provides medium-sized companies with a roadmap that guides business executives and IT professionals on a journey towards integration and IT value creation.

So how does it work?

The Relevant IT Maturity Model defines five levels that describe where IT’s level of maturity is positioned in the company across six different capabilities, namely:
* Business expectations;
* Roles and responsibilities;
* Strategic positioning;
* Shared understanding;
* Execution focus; and
* Performance management.

The process of growing the value that IT contributes in the business is a matter of identifying capabilities and implementing the changes needed to advance each capability to the next level of maturity.
There is a very set order in which this should be done – and this is what would form part of a company’s Relevant IT journey.

As companies advance in maturity within each capability, IT will create more value. The exact nature of this value will also change during this Relevant IT journey – with one of the early values being simply a stable and reliable infrastructure.

Later maturity levels bring greater value through alignment with business services, followed by business differentiation. In the final stage of the maturity model, IT is a core capability of the business – to the point that the business is quite likely to have transformed its business model to take advantage of a new way of operating and of servicing their customers digitally.

In order for discussions between IT and unit managers to be more productive, it would depend on where the company is in its journey of advancing through the Relevant IT maturity levels.

For example, if IT is a cost centre and a grudge purchase, conversations between IT and business unit managers about using technology to differentiate how they attract customers or service their market, are not likely to produce results. The two entities will talk past each other, with neither really understanding what the other is offering or what the other requires.

Welham says,” As companies begin to appreciate what IT can do and IT aligns more with the business and its needs, IT will have more influence, resulting in the business operating at an optimal level across multiple levels. The language used to bridge the gap between IT and the business must be about what is the next business need – otherwise one, or both parties will not be fully aligned.”