Bridging the IT-Business Unit Divide

IT Vs. Business Units: An Historical Perspective

Throughout the 20th century, multiple levels of management were responsible for business processes, business systems, employee productivity, and employee satisfaction. The dot-boom-dot-bust that began the 21st century eliminated entire levels of such management and effectively transferred the responsibility for all systems and procedures to IT, but not responsibility for employee satisfaction or productivity.

The outcome has generally been more efficient IT system procurement, but also, unsurprisingly, what has been perceived as ineffective IT responsiveness to the needs of office employees. Unfortunately, in many companies, the inability of IT and business unit staffers to understand each other's needs has resulted in both personnel and communications systems that simply fail to communicate.

Business managers traditionally placed great emphasis on producing teamwork among individuals to increase productivity, maximize job satisfaction, and minimize turnover. It's different today. IT views its business role as connecting hardware and systems and managing processes to meet financial and operating objectives. Moreover, IT may simply have no metric in place to measure employee satisfaction or productivity, nor does it have any responsibility for the result.

Moreover, if one asks (as we have many times), "Which department, or more specifically, which executive is responsible today for productivity and employee satisfaction?" the answer in many companies, sadly, is "no one."

Why the IT-Business Unit Rift Lingers

Frequently, the greatest mistake companies make when trying to resolve IT's inability to communicate effectively is to make IT responsible for the solution. IT naturally goes about it from IT's point of view, which is something, as business units are not reluctant to point out, they feel is largely responsible for causing the problem in the first place. The results are eminently and inevitably predictable.

While traditional business process analysis (a common IT tool) can alleviate some of the symptoms, it also frequently fails to get to the core of the problem. Remaining and festering issues typically include mutually exclusive vocabularies and widespread and undocumented "workaround" business processes. Equally or even more harmful is the damage that has been done to the always undocumented, delicate, and now unsupported fabric of rich non-dotted line relationships that make great companies successful.

How the Teleconvergence Perspective is Different

Consider these contrasts:

  • IT views the desktop as the metaphor for an employee. Teleconvergence sees the desktop as the system gateway to the relationships that enable individuals and groups to productively perform their jobs and receive job satisfaction.
  • IT sees communications as a technology to connect systems and users. Teleconvergence views communications as something that uses technology to achieve personal, interpersonal, and business objectives

Which perspective do you think is more likely to be able to articulate business unit needs in terms that IT can understand and respond to and which will best ultimately satisfy all parties concerned?


Why IT Can't Solve The Problem By Itself

The problem cannot really be resolved from within IT because IT is unwittingly complicit in perpetuating the problem. In a formal IT-directed dotted-line-relationship-only environment, where the real need to address both personal business requirements and the interpersonal aspects of business relationships remains unsatisfied, what invariably occurs is the creation and perpetuation of workarounds, frustration, and low morale.


Why Teleconvergence Can

Teleconvergence believes that properly created systems and processes create cohesiveness within and among business units by effectively formalizing the importance of non-dotted line relationships among individuals.

If the situation is rooted in or aggravated by poor communication, Teleconvergence may be able to help as an honest broker because of our lack of bias in resolving technologically-related communications problems.

Teleconvergence can determine the true operational, communications, systems, workflow, and interpersonal requirements that exist throughout an organization and turn them into specifications to which IT can respond appropriately by creating appropriate organizational capabilities.

Teleconvergence -- and this must be understood clearly-- in no way replaces IT's technical functionality. Instead, Teleconvergence simply represents the business acumen coupled with technological insight that has been lost due to the departure of so many experienced non-IT business unit managers and staff.

IT thus retains management responsibility for all systems, but the process allows Business Units to express their needs through Teleconvergence by using the business and even interpersonal vocabularies that so often unfortunately have become lost in translation.

Doesn't that sound like the win-win both sides would like to accomplish?