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Mutual Respect Plays a Critical Role in Aligning IT and the Business, Finds TEKsystems

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People are at the heart of every successful business initiative. At TEKsystems, we understand people. Every year we deploy more than 80,000 IT professionals at 6,000 client sites across North America, Europe and Asia. Our deep insights into IT human capital management enable us to help our clients achieve their business goals–while optimizing their IT workforce strategies. We provide IT staffing solutions, IT talent management expertise and IT services to help our clients plan, build and run their critical business initiatives. Through our range of quality-focused delivery models, we meet our clients where they are, and take them where they want to go, the way they want to get there.

HANOVER, MD – September 02, 2010 – While there once was a time when IT leaders focused on projects that were seen only as IT initiatives, demand for superior cost savings, improved customer retention, agility, business intelligence and compliance/risk management are among the trends driving IT leaders to partner with the business to solve strategic and operational issues with technology. In fact, TEKsystems’ recent IT and Talent Survey revealed that 95% of CIOs believe that IT will play a key role in accomplishing business goals as we pull out of the recession.

“Projects supporting Business Intelligence initiatives, for example, offer risk management, the identification of operational efficiencies and allow for greater predictive visibility to meet the demand for real-time data that allows the business to grow,” says TEKsystems Market Research Manager, Tania Lavin. “With a clear business focus, these kinds of initiatives are spearheaded by IT and are designed to impact every area of the organization.”

TEKsystems, the nation’s leading technology staffing and services company, partners with the Inavero Institute to conduct its quarterly IT and Talent Survey. This quarter’s survey reflects the perspectives of over 1,000 CIOs and IT decision makers in the U.S. and Canada.

IT’s direct tie to business initiatives and their outcomes have facilitated a modern organizational environment where IT leaders are invited to help make critical, business-oriented decisions. The percentage of IT executives who are becoming members of the senior management committee is on the rise. Moreover, TEKsystems’ survey reveals that today 76% of IT leaders confirm they have a seat at the organization’s decision making table.

While this finding is encouraging for business and IT leaders, the survey results also show that only 40% of IT leaders say that their internal customers respect IT’s role and experience.

A lack of mutual understanding can explain the gap between being invited and being respected. Consider, for example, the finding that only 34% of organizations offer formalized programs designed to teach IT employees about the business. “Many organizations assume that the acquisition of business-focused knowledge happens naturally,” says TEKsystems Vice President of Organizational Development, Matt Hannigan. “However, a lack of formality around teaching and facilitating understanding tends to result in a clear knowledge gap that hurts the success of IT as well as the business. While many companies focus on technology related training to maintain skills, the focus should also be on providing contextual information, enabling IT professionals to view their role in terms of the organization’s strategies and initiatives.”

Without the necessary knowledge and understanding in place, it’s no surprise that 67% of IT leaders say they are sometimes at odds with their internal customers. “The two groups can speak very different languages and live in very different worlds,” says Lavin. “Making that partnership successful takes concerted focus and hard work. What’s most concerning is that the disconnect can perpetuate itself – especially as new hires are brought onboard and/or vendors are engaged to support IT.”

To improve IT’s ability to successfully impact the business, technology leaders should consider the following:

  • Frame IT’s objectives in terms of the business challenges that IT is tasked with solving. That big-picture view enables IT employees to not only “follow requirements,” but also to help define them and ensure the ultimate outcome of IT undertakings really solve the issue at hand.
  • Institutionalize open communication and formalized business-oriented training programs.
  • Prioritize soft skills and business acumen when selecting IT professionals for your organization. “Technical skills are a necessity,” says Hannigan, “but they aren’t enough if IT wants to make a true business impact.”