Mind the Gap: Convergence, not alignment mends the business/IT divide

Finbarr Joy, Senior Advisor at Superbet


At our CIO Event at Said Business School, Oxford University, Finbarr Joy, Senior Advisor at Superbet will be speaking on the topic of IT/ Business alignment in pursuit of Digital Transformation; His talk: ‘Mind the Gap: Convergence, not Alignment mends the business/IT divide’ will challenge accepted norms for IT alignment, and will suggest that the Digital reality is better underpinned by ‘converged’ capabilities that see traditional IT structures and practices dissolved.
 
In preparing for digital transformation, it is time to re-frame the perspective of the CIO. Increasingly, this role needs to be at the forefront of leading commercial growth through technology. No longer concerned with ‘IT alignment’, but instead focused on convergence of multiple capabilities – both technical and commercial, to drive greater digital acceleration. 
 
Examples are presented for the transition to a converged multi-disciplinary team model, together with benchmarks for technology-driven commercial growth, and the strategy for cultural change across multiple disciplines and functions.
 
An experienced keynote speaker, Finbarr is an International Technology executive, with an established record for transforming global organisational performance through Digital innovation. 
 
From software engineer to board member, via startup co-founding, global consulting, and FTSE 100 executive experience, he has also led Product Management, Customer Services operations, Business Development, and M&A teams, complementing a comprehensive leadership capability profile.
 
When asked about his passion for this particular topic, Finbarr highlights the need for rapid, far – reaching change for organisations in all sectors to keep pace with the leaders of the Consumer Internet (increasingly encroaching on all markets as software continues to ‘eat the world’).
 
“The themes I will pick up on relate to whether we are going far enough in optimising our organisational structures in pursuit of Digital Transformation. There are still many (the majority?) – especially in larger corporates- that are pursuing a state of improved ‘alignment’, where a significant standalone ‘IT’ department attempts to synchronise itself better with the demands of an amorphous ‘Business’. Our very day to day language gives us away in this: e.g. “have we confirmed this change with the business?”.   
 
When the technology we used was very much a secondary concern (“not our core business”), then maybe there was a rationale for this segregation of functions, alongside other traditional and ‘industrial’ management practices.  But as the penetration and pace of ‘Digital’ accelerates we must confront alternative approaches (traditional operators and once-great brands now falling by the wayside seemingly every day in the UK).
  
Speaking to Paula Carey, Head of Production EMEA for GB Intelligence, Finbarr also highlighted the continuing relevance of the principles of Conway’s Law of communication structure, named after computer programmer Melvin Conway.
 
“Conway’s Law suggests a framework for understanding that any system inevitably becomes the result of the structure of the teams that built it. You will have seen the classic IT layer diagram with a ‘front end’, a ‘middleware’ layer and a big database and ‘infrastructure’ at the bottom of the ‘stack’. The resulting system is typically put together by separate teams labelled according to their practice (e.g. ‘middleware team’) so guess what: we get painfully siloed systems, laden with latency. Orchestrating changes across these silos is a painful process – and certainly doesn’t occur at Digital pace. 
 
If you look at a cloud-native architecture, it looks more like a network of small modules (think neurons and synapses), connected via a continuous ‘pulse’ of communications and signalling.  We cannot tackle this model with the lumpen structures of the past. The implications and dependencies of ‘cloud native’ help us answer team structural considerations, as the talk will explain.


Finbarr Joy will be speaking at our CIO Oxford event on Thursday 26th March 2020. To learn more about all our upcoming events, click here.

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