Uniting IT and Business Professionals Through a Shared Language of Success

In today’s business landscape, IT professionals must align technology initiatives with business goals to bridge the gap between technical strategies and boardroom priorities.

Alan Masarek, CEO, Avaya

May 31, 2024

4 Min Read
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Monopoly919 via Adobe Stock

Customer experience is a driving factor of how winning brands grow, differentiate, and stand out. They get there by empowering stakeholders to confidently drive success together with the teams that power those customer experiences. That means addressing the divide between IT leaders and the business results-focused leaders like CEOs and Boards. As a tech CEO who regularly meets with customers and sits on Boards, I recognize this as a key issue that can sabotage even the best laid CX plans.  

Here’s why this line in the sand exists: The concept of customer experience means different things to different people. You can Google “CX” to learn what it is, but the “how” is up for debate. If CX is so important, which we all absolutely agree on, then we need to get to a place where IT and business leaders speak the same language.  

What do I mean by this? The IT team’s priorities are focused on the tactical and technical: moving to the cloud, managing various systems, consolidating vendors, etc. Then you’ve got your CEOs and Boards who are focused on business priorities and strategies, brand vision, customer retention, growth, and of course, customer experience.  

If you close your eyes and picture a Venn diagram, it’s easy to see where these two groups overlap in their needs and goals, but there’s a huge gap in communication that exists. When this gap is effectively bridged, these leaders and their businesses can synergistically drive optimal customer experiences. The opportunities to innovate the customer experience and increase profit become limitless. 

Related:Why CIOs Are Under Pressure to Innovate

3 Ways to Create a Language of Success  

1. Make business performance the common denominator  

Anyone in the world of IT knows just how jargon-filled and buzzword-heavy it is. In fact, when poking around the websites of several tech companies, I collected words from their description sections. Here are some standouts: blind spots, orchestration, all-in-one, robust, AI-based, operational, cohesive, framework, transformation, and modernization. These words are commonly found in the realm of IT.  

Now, how do CEOs and Boards think? If you were a fly on the wall of a corporate boardroom, you’d hear words like growth, acceleration, brand, return on investment (ROI), and shareholder returns. In the end, all of those things add up to business performance. That’s what business-results focused leaders think about, and IT leaders can relate. See that middle ground in your Venn diagram becoming clearer?  

If you want to get through to a Board, talk business performance. Better business performance equals better business outcomes: better customer retention, better customer satisfaction, and better agent satisfaction, productivity, and engagement. “Business performance” addresses all the things that matter most, packaged in a way that everyone understands.  

Related:Why Your Enterprise Should Create an Internal Talent Marketplace

2. Establish business metrics that matter  

We’ve established “business performance” as a common ground for effective communication between IT leaders and business leaders. We also need to think about the metrics that correspond with and accurately reflect business performance. In the world of customer service, it’s common to focus on efficiency metrics like average handle time and first call resolution. These are necessary, but not the best way to capture customer experience in terms of business performance metrics.  

IT and business leaders need to answer the question: “Which metrics will help us figure out how CX prompts positive gains in business performance?” Once metrics are established, all leaders should set tangible, defensible goals for their teams and prep for questions from investors and analysts. To realize outcomes that directly translate to better business performance, you need to build a measurement framework that connects CX and business results.  

Related:Working With Non-IT Users Who Do IT

3. Drive innovation without business disruption 

You can’t improve CX without innovating across digital platforms, but too often the IT industry builds innovations that require businesses to innovate at the cost of business disruption—I know this because CIOs and CEOs tell me firsthand. They are literally having to slow down their businesses because transformation projects are taking years of business time and millions, if not tens of millions of dollars, to deliver promised value. This is why we see so many statistics about projects being cancelled because the end goal is simply not coming fast enough. 

Here’s a crazy thought: Innovation doesn’t need to be disruptive by nature. You don’t need to drag your business to the innovation and risk disruption. Let the innovation come to you, specifically by using your existing solution platform (a.k.a. your core CX platform) as the integrator of innovation. Keep what you have and leverage partners who can deliver an integrated experience that allows you to pursue and consume innovation in a way that makes sense for your business.  

To create a shared language of success, IT and business leaders need to align on their approach to innovation. If “innovation without disruption” isn’t your approach, ask yourself: why not? 

About the Author(s)

Alan Masarek

CEO, Avaya

Alan Masarek is the President and CEO of Avaya, with over 30 years of experience in software and cloud-based businesses. He consistently prioritizes technology innovation, enterprise communications, and cultivating a talent-driven culture. His previous role as CEO of Vonage Holdings Corp, he transformed the company into a global leader in enterprise cloud communications through eight acquisitions. Alan also co-founded and led Quickoffice, Inc., which was acquired by Google. He holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.B.A. from the University of Georgia. 

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