If your IT department and business executives only communicate when computers or applications aren’t running, you can be certain your operational efficiency, customer service and industry compliance are suffering.

It used to be normal for business executives and IT management to butt heads over IT buying decisions. A common scenario was the business team viewed IT as a cost center and wanted to eke out every last bit of life from computers and servers before buying a replacement. And IT departments wanted to keep hardware and software current to avoid the stresses that result from inevitable crashes and downtime of using outdated stuff.

Fast forward to the present and (fortunately) many executives are seeing the wisdom of taking a strategic approach to IT and IT departments are becoming more business focused—and some companies have even achieved a convergence between the two groups.

If your business is looking to move up the IT vs. business continuum toward convergence, here are a few tips to move the needle in the right direction:

  1. Find common ground. A common reason for business and IT disparity is that one group is myopically focused on technology and the other group is myopically focused on sales, expenses, profits and losses. Both entities can start seeing eye to eye when they focus on mutually beneficial topics, such as employee productivity and the customer experience. With this mind shift, IT can see the bigger picture of how technology is used and managers can understand why investing in technology extends beyond the accounting ledger.
  2. Be an educator. CEOs recognize new technologies are changing the business landscape, but they likely have a lot of misperceptions about what’s real and what’s hype—especially as it pertains to popular buzzwords like cloud, digitization, mobility, collaboration and the Internet of Things, just to name a few. An IT department that can understand the business and educate the management team (in plain English) about how technology software, hardware and/or services can benefit employees and/or customers is an invaluable resource to any organization.

The first area where IT should be educating business managers is security. Malware, ransomware, phishing scams are just a few examples of the security threats businesses are facing and the stakes can get very high. Business executives understand the consequences of stolen intellectual property and downtime. IT can help connect the dots by showing how multiple security layers can help minimize these threats.

Increased regulations are another area where IT and business managers can find common ground and create better alignment. Like security, business managers understand the negative impact to their company’s reputation—in addition to receiving fines—if they fail an audit. IT can play a key role in mitigating this outcome by educating management about data protection and security and working together to create policies and procedures to improve compliance.

As you consider the ways that your company’s IT and business objectives could be better aligned, one final point to keep in mind is that this isn’t a one-time thing. It’s a process.

Adam Davis, CEO, Next Dimension Inc