There was a time when the only reason that some parts of a business interacted with IT was when there was a technical issue that nobody else could fix. It turns out that was not only a waste of resources but a terrible waste of talent that could be better put to use in innovating. I speak from the other side of the fence, as VP of Business Analysis and Architecture at Salesforce, it’s my responsibility to support the sales organisation.
Here at Salesforce we’ve rebranded our ‘IT Department’ as Business Technology, but it’s far more than just a change of name.
Business technology is part of the DNA of our organisation - it permeates every function in Salesforce from recruitment to sales, it’s absolutely central to driving success.
It’s the job of our team to make sure that we both understand and can optimise the business processes of the sales organisation. So if there’s somebody within the sales organisation who’s requesting a new tool enhancement or a change in functionality it’s up to us to validate what they’re asking for and then work with Business Technology to figure out how best to bring it to life. In that sense our two streams of the business are absolutely and intrinsically joined at the hip.
It’s simple really. The value of having Business Technology in every facet of the organisation is that they have a clear overview of what’s going on. They understand our infrastructure - so that if there’s a project running in say, marketing, or finance, that might at some level overlap with something that we’re working on they can alert us immediately. The immediate benefit of this is that it reduces duplication and unnecessary work but at the same time it can help speed up development.
We talk, in the CIO Playbook, about Business Technology getting out of their silo - one of the side effects of taking that approach is that it forces the rest of the business to begin to behave the same way as well. It means that we’re all working towards the same goal and contributes to understanding the process.
One of the benefits is that Business Technology, naturally, understands our infrastructure. They understand what projects are happening in finance, in employee success or in marketing that could overlap with something we’re thinking about in sales, which reduces redundant work and accelerates development. They help us make sure that we’re not working in silos so we’re all working towards the same goal. And they know what we can and can’t do, what can and can’t be customised. They help us make sure that we’re not the ones prescribing a solution — we’re focused on what the sales organisation needs, what the requirements are — they’re the experts when it comes to the solution.
It means as well that we can spend our time concentrating on identifying the issues that pertain to the sales organisation - what their actual requirements are - rather than instantly switching into solution mode and trying to solve that issue as well - Business Technology work with us, as part of our organisation, and it means that the solutions they deliver are always aligned to the business objectives because of the collaboration that has gone into the process at the early stages.
We’ve had some notable successes collaborating in this way - which you can read about in the CIO Playbook.