A truly high-performing IT organization must embrace three key principles: alignment, trust, and adaptivity. Getting there requires revisiting outdated practices for your architecture and operating model.

David Mooter, Principal Analyst

March 26, 2024

3 Min Read
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Eugene Sergeev via Alamy Stock

In a technology-driven business environment, it’s imperative that technology and business strategies are aligned. IT strategies disconnected from business goals jeopardize the positive impact that IT teams can have on revenue, profit, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement. To thrive and grow, IT leaders must make a strategic commitment to a concept called “high-performance IT,” defined as the pursuit of continuously improving business results through technology. 

High-performance IT is grounded in three key principles: 

  1. Alignment. High-performance IT ensures tight alignment across business and IT strategies, with both centered on driving customer value. 

  2. Trust. Trust in a company or brand drives revenue-generating behaviors from customers, such as increased loyalty or even the sharing of personal data. Building trust through security, privacy, and resilience is a core principle of high-performance IT. It also engenders trust, both in the CIO and IT, within the business. 

  3. Adaptivity. High-performance IT favors distinctive behaviors of an adaptive organization, such as the use of predictive analytics and flexible technologies, that are tuned to the unique needs of the business. 

For technology teams, achieving high-performance IT requires thinking and working differently than in the past. High performance cannot be achieved by enterprise architects who work in ivory towers, pontificating tech ideas divorced from business goals -- that’s not alignment, and it certainly doesn’t instill trust between business and IT, nor will it be achieved through centralized command-and-control practices. A sluggish and bureaucratic IT model will never deliver the adaptive business that your customers demand. 

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Perhaps most importantly, high-performance IT will not be achieved through siloed practices. IT organizations must fully understand the business architecture within the wider organization and then align their technology strategy and architecture to suit that. To do this, a new operating model should be implemented that aligns both the people and the structures within your IT organization to deliver the value that your business requires, which likely varies from one firm to another. 

How Can a New High-Performance Operating Model Be Achieved? 

High-performance IT requires thinking differently about your technology architecture and operating model and aligning your people, strategic partnerships, practices, and technology to deliver capabilities and value. Tech architects can follow a four-step framework to help guide their IT organization toward a high-performance operating model: 

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  • Enterprise architecture must start with business goals for its tech roadmap. The point of enterprise architecture is to translate what your business needs to accomplish into a roadmap of investing in the right mix of IT capabilities. This means that architecture must be accountable for delivering business outcomes. 

  • Empower people to carry creativity and motivation into the work they do. To unleash the organization’s full potential, give IT leaders and staff the guidance and tools they need, and delegate decision-making rather than rely on command-and-control practices. In particular, pay attention to technology skills and encourage a spirit of entrepreneurism. 

  • Develop co-innovation partnerships to scale expertise and capacity. Platform ecosystems and the rising role of technology in business have amped up pressure to get better outcomes from technology partners. Focus on relationships with your most critical service providers; ask how you can select, motivate, and engage providers and their ecosystems to focus on your outcomes as co-innovation partners. 

  • Align organizational practices to focus on achieving business outcomes via adaptive processes. Reorient your organization’s practices so that your capabilities and the contributions of external partners are better aligned to business outcomes. Focus on blending silos into platforms and empower the platform teams that make them possible. For example, one global pharmaceutical company reoriented its siloed integration practices toward federated delivery, supported by platform engineering and an integration center for enablement; this resulted in significant speed to market, cost savings on an enterprise resource planning migration, and easier retirement of legacy tech. 

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Moving away from silo-based practices isn’t easy for many IT teams and requires a mindset shift. But the benefits are worth the work and can significantly improve the value of a technology organization. By focusing on these key principles, IT teams can more quickly and comprehensively align with their business peers and strategies to architect, build, and deliver the IT capabilities that their business needs for growth and success. 

About the Author(s)

David Mooter

Principal Analyst, Forrester

David Mooter is a principal analyst at Forrester. His research focuses on architectural topics such as integration, API strategy and management, event-driven architecture, and microservices. Previously, at Progressive Insurance, David conducted successful efforts to modernize the company’s decades-old policy servicing system and led its technical strategy for APIs, integration, and event streaming. His IT experience also includes technology leadership, software design and development, and co-founding a successful online game business. He is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. 

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