Avoiding Chinese walls between business and IT

Avoiding Chinese walls between business and ITAs IT is everywhere today, boundaries between the traditional IT organization and the rest of the organization are changing. Most of production and supply chains may be automated with machines that interface heavily with IT. Collaboration with partners and suppliers flows through IT services. Business processes are adapted dynamically by integrating and adapting applications from interfaces that are close to users. Office facilities like telephony, access to buildings, security, etc. become integrated. Some communication with customers and  other  stakeholders may have moved on line and through integration of IT systems. Business users can adapt quickly to needs by accessing IT services available from anywhere, internally or externally, even as a packaged service from the public cloud. As they bring in their own device, it almost looks as if they have completely become independent of traditional internal IT structures. Market based opportunities have entered the company.

Of course, this all needs to work together, this needs to be supported by key users, specialized professionals, and other people who know what they are doing. Yet in this complex setting, some overview needs to exist on support contracts, budgets and long-term business architecture. Some would say part of IT has become a commodity that can be sourced from anywhere. Others would say that no business strategy can exist anymore without taking into account the way IT based creativity can be used as a strategic asset. In such a world, boundaries between IT and business are becoming less relevant. Business and application support teams have evolved towards virtual teams across multiple departments, working together to keep the business processes running and to continuously adapt them to new needs. These virtual teams can even expand across organizations. In the most dynamic businesses, IT is embedded in the business, and the business is embedded in the IT.

Traditional ITIL based organization structures almost suggest the purity of a closed system. Within an organization, there are two large blocks: the business and IT. The business is a customer of IT and must be happy to accept IT as a blackbox. IT may have complex internal structures, which are hidden from the business. The business may have complex structures, which are not relevant to how IT is structured. Clear and unique interfaces between organizational entities are expected to lead to more control and clarity for everyone. If everyone makes sure his part of the organization is doing fine, the entire organization will do just fine as well. But is this still true today? Effective and close collaboration between traditional "business" professionals and traditional "IT" professionals may have become just as relevant today as collaboration between IT professionals among them. Today, this collaboration may often be more than a market based contractual agreement.