She recalled one training session for a global hotel brand: "Their IT team came in, and our trainer asked them to list the top three nationalities of their clients. Out of 20 IT people, only two got it right. If they don't know their customers, how can they design their IT projects to target those customers' needs?
"I think in our IT organizations that if we can select the right projects, over 50% of the problem is already resolved," said Sunny Lee, chairman, Hong Kong Computer Society, CIO Board. "But [after that], it's also communication collaboration with the business to determine the value of proposed initiatives versus the cost, versus the risk of implementation, versus the level of talent within the organization to deploy it correctly."
Lee said that when he worked at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, one strategy that worked was "bringing the cost-picture to the surface: instituting a charge-out for the resources necessary to do the work. Business then started challenging IT on costs and that would often go out to the vendor in terms of competitive bidding, in-house versus outsource, etc."
"At MTRC, we have a value-assessment model," said Suen. "Every year, we ask all our users to submit a business case they'd like to implement in the year ahead. Based on a set of agreed-upon criteria, we score these proposals."
"Of course, things like safety are top-priority regardless of ROI--MTR always emphasizes safety," said Suen." But we consider these other projects based on our scoring system, which considers existing resources and business-value."
"Some research now says there will be no more IT projects in the future, only business projects," said Chan. "Sometimes I think IT has been moved from the back office to the very front line--businesses have IT supporting their sales and marketing now, and that's why I think we need engagement between IT people and different business units."
"Are IT and business speaking the same language now?" said Sunny Lee. "I think there's still a gap. It's a moving target--IT isn't like accounting or a traditional business, it moves fast."
"It is hard for business to comprehend the complexity behind tech," he said. "Business feels it's easier than it is because they don't see how much more there is to integration, the complexity of the value chain, and how to make new tech work with pre-existing tech."
"Business tends to think they 'know' IT--because they're now exposed to a great deal of consumer technology, which is much more powerful than it was in the past," said Lee. "So they feel: 'if I can do this, with my iPad or Android or whatever, then it can readily be applied to enterprises', but it's not the case. There's security, there's governance, there's compliance issues. It doesn't work that way."
"These are some of the issues that still make it difficult to align IT and business," concluded Lee from HKCS.
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