Introducing IT for Business (IT4B): a new model for achieving digital innovation

How can you use service management concepts, methods and processes in a way that focuses digital innovation on achieving business goals?

In the first of a series of blog posts, Brian Johnson and Walter Zondervan, authors of forthcoming book IT4B set out an approach for ensuring that IT solutions are predicated on delivering what the business needs.

IT4B? That sounds like another acronym designed by IT to make the business community think IT is of vague interest. Well, IT4B is ‘IT for business’, an approach intended to help the business side of the house determine whether IT is in fact aligned or integrated, or whatever the latest buzzword is, and what is missing. And, for sure, something will be missing.

Of course, when it comes to the digitisation of information services, IT will be in the driving seat and IT4B becomes a tool for both parties to determine gaps in requirements, competence, capabilities and even knowledge of the various methods needed to move from business-designed objectives to IT-delivered services.


The IT4B model

Diagram of the IT4B model

The model illustrates the subject areas covered by this way of thinking. IT4B is a structured way of thinking, supported by detailed examination of the most common attributes in an enterprise. This blog – the first in a series – introduces the model, explains why we built the thing, and outlines what will be discussed in the coming weeks.

Providing the necessary structure to facilitate digital innovation is often a challenge. Based on more than twenty years of research and experience at the interface of business and IT, we created an approach that helps translate your business goals into digital ambitions and a roadmap in a practical, non-technical manner. Using a set of simple canvasses, you gain insight into the steps you can take to transform your organisation into a digital enterprise.

It is not a new IT method; existing good-practice methods are referenced, not altered. And, instead of yet another method that solves world peace, we explain how the various existing methods can work more effectively when used in a joined-up manner.

Our focus is on helping you to focus your IT innovation on the future of the business and the market in which it operates rather than implementing the latest method or software or technology that will make the business great again.


IT4B and digital innovation

More often than not, IT people expect the business to understand their language and claim that it is impossible for the business to articulate what they need or want.

IT is a roadblock to innovation in these circumstances because instead of examining the principles of, let’s say, efficiency and effectiveness in how quickly they can respond to the business when new services are needed or in times of crisis, the default response is to examine their various models of best practices to see where it fits into a process they understand.

The philosophy behind IT4B is that the full potential of digital innovation can only be achieved if it is successfully embedded within a benefit model, an enterprise architecture and the operating model of your organisation. On the other hand, the true power of digital innovation can only be fully enjoyed if your enterprise has reached a certain level of digital readiness. In essence, the foundation of successful digital transformation is constructed when there is equilibrium between digital readiness and digital innovation. The IT4B framework and canvasses enable enterprises to discover the opportunities for digital innovation and create a digital profile of their specific organisation. The goal is to illustrate how to use the model and the myriad methods that exist in IT in order to reach the appropriate level of digital readiness.

Digram of the IT4B model and digital innovation


No one in IT ever tries to perform a bad job or provide lousy customer service, the issue is that IT professionals are most often directly recruited and are therefore intrinsically IT-centric, have no experience of the business in which they operate and thus seem distanced from understanding what is going on.

Discovering the missing pieces is often then a navel-gazing IT exercise that arrives at a number of fairly standard responses: we need our IT people to be certified in architecture, or a development method, or a programming method, or a method to manage projects. Sometimes the response magnitude level (RML) requires significant management attention and the entire organisation is said to be in need of some form of recognised external audit badge, and sometimes it is a cry for more money to buy more tools.

It is not focused on making sure IT understands business.

Over the next few weeks, we will provide guidance about some of the key issues that the business wants IT to solve. Our next post, available from Friday 4 May 2018, will discuss how the IT4B model can help you to balance business goals and digital innovation.

The issues are covered in more detail in IT4B, which will be published by ITGP on 5 June 2018.

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