By Caley Iandiorio

One of the greatest challenges facing retailers is the disconnect that exists between IT and business teams.

This disconnect manifests itself in the miscommunication and misunderstanding of goals, roles and requirements, producing unmet expectations from both groups. This often results in new technology projects slowing down or even stopping, preventing organizations from delivering exceptional customer experiences and causing both IT and business leaders to appear inefficient.

Research from Forrester demonstrates just how disjointed this relationship is:

  • Only 39% of business executives think IT “regularly delivers projects on time and on budget”1
  • Business leaders think IT has 60% more budget to spend than it does
  • 69% of IT [respondents] think the CIO  will be significantly involved in setting the overall ecommerce strategy – yet only 25% of business [respondents] agree3

An existing imbalance that creates an increasing divide is the time IT dedicates to just “keeping the lights on” — roughly 70%2. This results in many technical innovations that require IT support to be severely delayed or dropped entirely. Frustrated by the lack of time and attention focused on innovation, some business executives use their own budget to complete projects by circumventing their existing IT group by outsourcing IT services or by hiring “personal” IT staff1. This obviously does not address the underlying problem, and instead creates mistrust and misalignment.

But sophisticated IT and business teams at some of the most innovative, successful retail brands have identified this challenge and taken steps to overcome it by establishing a strong, symbiotic relationship that benefits both groups. Working as a partnership, IT and business teams are able to identify processes and technologies that reduce the load on IT while enabling the business to be more entrepreneurial, such as investing in cloud solutions that allow IT to pursue new, revenue-driving projects while having resources available to support the business teams when necessary. As a result, the entire company can move faster and grow faster.

Have you seen examples of this disconnect? What have you done to overcome it? Did it come down to establishing better communication or enabling technologies like SaaS?

1Forrsights: Business Execs Increase Direct IT Spend To Support Systems Of Engagement, May 14, 2012
2The Business Technology Value Scorecard, Moving From Transaction Orientation To Outcome Orientation, September 2013
3Understanding TCO When Evaluating eCommerce Solutions (Forrester), November 2012