Do you find it interesting that the majority of articles about IT & the business talk about this bridge, chasm, semantic layer, etc. ? When you look at companies struggling with growth, they too seem to talk about their own difficulties trying to improve their connection with their customers (either through requirements or loyalty programs). IT is as much tool-centric as most companies are product-centric. The challenges are similar in that both struggle to connect with their customers (internal or external). At least product managers and business leaders try to identify “trends” and opportunities with customers and some actually implement requirements engineering to ensure the products address the needs. Most IT shops have very little understanding of customer needs (whether from functional areas or LOB). They rely on packaged solutions (and little or no customization) to solve homogenized patterns of needs. Very little differentiation takes place here, since the designs and data models are often locked in by the vendors. Very few shops have software engineering capability, so they have to rely on vendors or 3rd parties to stitch the systems together so they can provide reports/analytics, and manage vendor support. There is little opportunity or interest in mining internal customers for their needs using a customer focus discipline. Is there any wonder why there is such a disconnect ? An EA can present integration frameworks, introduce customer focus processes, and even present models for improving analytics and aligning portfolios to streamline change management.
BUT, if IT is not able to measure value from the Customer POV, then it is very difficult to make the business case which enables IT to cross the chasm. Countless meetings will not overcome the lack of customer focus discipline. As a result, there will be little meaningful change to the bottom line. Disciplined measurement is the only way to identify, create, and deliver sustainable value. That’s the way it works for successful companies and that’s the way it works for IT departments who become integral to the company’s strategy.