The communication conundrum

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Why do we still struggle for effective communication between the business, IT and the C Suite?

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22 September 2017 | 0

Communication.

It’s something we do all the time and we think we are pretty good at it.

In fact, just the other day I heard someone say that a unique capability of our species is to be able to communicate complex ideas to many at once, primarily through story telling.

“Whether it is the hoary old chestnut of technology and the business, or security and risk for the CEO, we still seem to be failing at what is supposed to elevate us beyond the beasts—communicating complex ideas, simply and effectively”

However, having attended quite a varied schedule of events recently, from technology, to security and services and through to GDPR, I’m gobsmacked at how often the topic of communication, and in particular its poor practice, still crops up.

Whether it is the hoary old chestnut of technology and the business, or security and risk for the CEO, we still seem to be failing at what is supposed to elevate us beyond the beasts—communicating complex ideas, simply and effectively.

Along the lines of the old axiom that if you cannot explain what you are doing in simple terms, then you do not understand it well enough, we are all guilty sometimes of not wanting to communicate simply, in case we oversimply. But even the very effort of trying to reduce what we do to a simple expression appears to afflict us with a creeping dread that we ourselves will be undervalued.

For as long as I have been writing about technology, there has been an earnest effort to align IT with the business. This has manifested itself in various guises, from the technologists steering the ship, to being a facilitator for business leads and even CIO as CEO co-pilot.

Whatever the role, the point seems to be that there is still a fundamental gulf between business and technology that means business leaders do not seem to be able to grasp what technology has to offer, and that technologists have a hard time expressing the business value of their stock and trade.

How can this be?

How can we have persisted this far in leveraging information technology and still have this issue so prevalent?

I must admit to being at a loss.

While in my own background I have had some tech exposure and coding experience, I am by no means what could be called a technologist, or techie if you will. However, I have met and interviewed CIOs who have had less exposure than I. In each case, those people were no less effective in their jobs. The point was each one was a skilled and experienced communicator, able to effectively communicate with whomever.

Having broached this topic at a service event, whether the business should learn to speak more tech, or tech more business, the general consensus seemed to be both. And that makes sense when we consider a CIO who understands information flows and value to the business without necessarily being a deep techie is one that can bring take the message of what technology can do and apply it to business goals.

Matching business goals to supporting technology is surely the raison d’être of any CIO? And yet, there still seems to be an issue.

Perhaps it is part of our national character to not appear to be overstepping our own role, as either techie or business leader, to presume we know as much as some reciprocal in another area, but again, this does not go far enough to explain the breadth, nor indeed the persistence of the gulf.

Perhaps as we get to the more advanced stages of the digital transformation journey, and it is that, a journey, we will be at a place where the criticality of technology to everything in business is well understood and internalised that there will no longer be a language of technology and business, but rather a language that reflects indivisible nature of both.

 

 

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