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Yep, Business Execs Are from Mars and IT Execs Are from Venus

By Heidi Biggar


If there's one thing I have learned in life, it's that everything changes, but nothing changes.

This is particularly true in the IT world.

From my vantage point as an editor, analyst and marketer over the past two decades, I've witnessed a steady stream of new technologies (virtualization, big data, IoT, blockchain) as well as technology companies come and go—and, in some cases, be reimagined under different market conditions and different names.

Anyone remember YottaYotta?

Throughout the years, I've seen IT organizations continually rise to the challenges new technologies present and I've watched as IT leaders have worked hard to close the IT skills gap technology's fast pace invariably creates. In parallel, I've seen IT's role within the organization evolve from the back office to the boardroom and from cost center to revenue generator. As all this was happening, I've watched a new skills gap emerge: communication.

Communication—specifically, between lines of business and IT leaders—is a necessary constant in today's ever-changing IT world. The problem is, miscommunication between these two teams has become the norm rather than the exception. Communication has become "the nothing changes" in an "everything changes" world. And it is affecting your customers' businesses.

So, while there's no question that technology advances, like the cloud, are transforming customer environments, business success remains "bounded by the strength of a company's communication up, down, across, and within business and IT teams."

While I wrote those words four years ago in a post for Forbes, the message still applies today—perhaps even more strongly than it did then. At the time, the world was starting to move toward a IT-as-a-Service way of thinking. The challenge facing organizations then was getting IT and business leaders to communicate and align on a common initiative: running IT as a business. IT leaders were challenged to think of IT in more than technology terms, and business and IT leaders were challenged to work more collaboratively.

In a follow-on post, I suggested organizations consider a "two-in, two-out rule," a common operating procedure for firemen to help protect them against communication gaps and to keep them safe. It was a start.

According to a survey from CompTIA, a non-profit trade association serving the IT industry, once again, organizations are experiencing a growing gap in IT skills to meet business objectives.

In fact, nearly 6 in 10 of the large firms (500+ employees) CompTIA surveyed reported a growing IT skills gap—and, of these, one-third said they were "very concerned" about the trend. Organizations reported lower staff productivity, lower levels of customer service/engagement, lowers sales or profitability, insufficient speed to market with new products/services, insufficient cybersecurity safeguards and the inability to keep up with competitors as a direct result of this gap.

While the "scope and depth" of the IT skills gap captured by the CompTIA survey aligns with market trends toward broader cloud adoption and digital transformation and has important implications for your customers, the bigger threat may be less about the technology skillsets their IT teams lack and more about a "lines of business" IT skills gap.

Simply put: Business leaders don't understand what's involved in the move to the public cloud—and they're not taking the time to find out. They're not communicating with IT.

According to Enterprise Strategy Group in the Research Insights Paper: Accelerating Business in the Cloud, as  IT shifts to a more business-focused function, it must "strike and maintain a balance between time, expenses, and risk in order to not only keep the business running but also contribute to a highly efficient, innovative, and productive business environment."

Striking this balance depends on better communication between business and IT teams.

So, what can you do to help your  customers? Start by helping your customers CIOs/CTOs regain control in 2018. Find out what their IT skills gaps are – and help them develop their two in, two out rule.

Heidi Biggar is a 20-plus-year veteran of the IT industry. She has expertise in IT markets, technologies and consumers and is widely known for her bigger picture view of the industry. She has held a variety of marketing, consulting, analyst and media leadership roles over the years and currently serves as Director of Global Partner Enablement and Recruitment at Sungard AS.

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