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Architecting for Growth with Technology-Business Alignment

Architecting for Growth with Technology-Business Alignment
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Executives Featured:

Joyce Durst

CEO and Co-founder

Growth Acceleration Partners

MODERATOR

Kishore Kondragunta

VP, Head of IT

Woven by Toyota

GOVERNING BODY HOST

Pavan Attur

Area Information Officer

Kaiser Permanente

DISCUSSION LEADER

Evan Wayne

CIO

World Market

DISCUSSION LEADER

When innovation and adaptability matter most, technology leaders must demonstrate technology investments as a driver of revenue. Modern software and data strategies empower your organization to adapt to market, customer, and industry disruptions more effectively. The challenge is to ensure your tech projects yield substantial benefits and surpass expectations.

Improving the alignment between IT and the business is a top priority for CIOs across Evanta communities. In our annual Leadership Perspective Survey among community members, IT-Business Alignment ranks in the top 10 functional priorities for technology leaders in 2024.

Recently, the Evanta San Francisco CIO Community held a Town Hall discussion to share best practices and better approaches to align technology strategies with business objectives. Joyce Durst, CEO and Co-founder of Growth Acceleration Partners, moderated the discussion, and San Francisco CIO Governing Body members Kishore Kondragunta, VP Head of IT at Woven by Toyota, Pavan Attur, Area Information Officer at Kaiser Permanente, and Evan Wayne, CIO at World Market, led the small group discussions.

CEO and Co-founder Joyce Durst of Growth Acceleration Partners, who consult, design, and build custom software and data solutions, set up the conversation with some insights from their clients. Durst noted that in these uncertain times and current global market conditions, IT leaders are architecting for their organizations’ growth while also demonstrating that technology investments are the real drivers of revenue and profit growth.

CIOs are responsible for a myriad of critical applications ranging from bleeding-edge technology to legacy apps that need to stay up and running while their stakeholders want to know about AI, the cloud, cybersecurity, and monetizing data. Durst said that CIOs tell her they are “walking a tightrope stretched between skyscrapers as they try to keep things on balance.”

Key Takeaways from the Discussion

1. Communicating value and managing stakeholder expectations

CIOs agreed that it was important to create alignment on technology deliverables and how they are tied to business objectives. One executive suggested that it begins with defining the goals and objectives between a technology leader and a finance or other business leader. Durst shared that digital transformation remains a top priority in 74% of organizations, but most of the transformations are failing due to poor setting of expectations and no clear definition of ROI.

Another executive shared their group’s breakdown of 3 areas of technology investment. The first segment was “keep the lights on” for those things that are in use by some but don’t demonstrate a return to the business. The second investment area was items that have a defined benefit from the cost you save or the growth you achieve, and the third one was “strategic investments” or those areas in which you are going to make some bets but may not see a benefit for a few years.

Their group discussed that this third bucket of investments is tricky to navigate. It’s hard for stakeholders to wait several years to see the return on their investment, with one IT leader saying you need metrics to track the value to the Board and leadership. Another CIO suggested that you need a strategic champion to “put a stake in the ground and agree to the investment.”

2. Preparing the organization to do LLM & AI

 

The groups discussed their organizations’ readiness for AI and LLM projects. The executives agreed that they are experiencing the same challenges in moving beyond the hype to define real use cases.

Several CIOs reported concerns about data quality and data security in using AI and generative AI. One executive noted on the topic of data quality that most organizations have some systems that produce data that they feel confident about – it’s validated and cleansed. But organizations also have legacy systems in place producing data that they have less confidence in and CIOs wrestle with what to do with the old data. While it might have value, they don’t want to mix it with clean new data, and data quality has a big impact on their ability to implement valuable AI initiatives.

Durst shared a research finding from MIT in which 46% of Chief Data Officers shared that data quality is the biggest obstacle to their AI readiness.

3. Scaling talent amidst ever-changing skill sets

One CIO noted that on the topic of balancing the IT vision with necessary skill sets, their discussion group talked about hiring for “the right attitude.” Executives felt they needed team members who are agile and willing to learn, given the changing nature of skills required. Another CIO shared that talent is a challenge with some of the new AI initiatives at their organization.

Durst also noted that with the mix of new technologies and legacy applications and systems, “maintaining the right set of skills is more complicated than it used to be.”

Overall, technology leaders agreed that the business is relying on their teams to maintain existing systems while adding new and emerging technologies to the mix. They have to focus on prioritizing the right initiatives to deliver on business objectives and communicate about it in a way that sets the right expectations.

CIOs can continue the conversation on aligning IT strategies with business objectives at an upcoming Evanta community gathering. If you are already a member, sign in to MyEvanta to register or you can apply to join a community of your CIO peers to stay fully up-to-date on key topics for technology leaders.