When business and technology march down the aisle, it's best not to trip over each other's feet.
Remember all those sports days and community picnics of your childhood when they lashed your right leg to someone else's left (or their left leg to your right) and made you dash together towards a finishing line?
The name of the game was three-legged race, and for you the aim was to complete the race without giving way to the giggles or tripping over your team-mate's feet and falling in a heap. Of course, your head teachers and sports teachers had an entirely different aim in mind: teaching cooperation, since until you learned to coordinate your leg movements, neither you nor your running mate were going anywhere.
Well, now is the time to strap business's leg firmly to yours and show executives the advantages of matching IT's stride, says PepsiCo senior vice president and global CIO Tom Trainer. Trainer sees a lot of parallels between that perennial picnic day favourite and the ever-evolving relationship between IT and business: last year he collaborated with other pre-eminent industry and academic thought leaders on the book Winning The 3-Legged Race: When Business and Technology Run Together.
The first major publication of the Business Technology Management Institute (BTM Institute), Winning The 3-Legged Race shows how to subject business technology to a comprehensive set of management standards. It outlines the critical concepts for business technology management (BTM), an emerging management science, and offers concrete executive agendas.
However, Trainer also uses another analogy to describe the subtle ways that the relationship is shifting as business slowly becomes committed to placing IT squarely in the critical path. "We're about to witness the marriage of IT and business, where before it was just casual dating," Trainer says. "It's hard to imagine any sizeable business now not almost totally reliant on IT for everything from closing the books to strategizing and enabling strategies in supply chain all the way through the business. The question is how do you do that: What's the governance model that commits people on a day-to-day basis to managing all of that?
"That's what I meant when I said it was casual dating before. There wasn't really a commitment but it was something that seemed to be trending in a direction that might make sense for some. Now it's a marriage and I can't imagine a big company not really being committed to having IT in the critical path."
If IT and business are to wed, Trainer can claim some credit as one of a group of global leaders and academics playing a crucial behind-the-scenes role as matchmakers. He is an enthusiastic member and proponent of the not for profit Michael Nobel Harriet Fulbright Institute of Business Technology Management (the full name for the BTM Institute), an organization of world-class experts in unifying technology and business. Its work, he says, is aimed squarely at providing the basis for "growing" future generations of CIOs by teaching them the management science of information technology.
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