How to Operate IT With a Business Mindset

At the beginning of any journey, the first question that comes to mind is instinctively “How will we get there?”

But sometimes the deeper, more relevant question is not about the destination or itinerary but about where you’re traveling from.

The same principle applies to using organizational transformation to run IT like a business.

With IT as a Service, it’s important to take stock of where an organization is at before taking on change.

Aspiration (“We want to be fast and responsive to the business.”) isn’t always tempered by the reality of organizational culture or industry vertical. A heavily-regulated company, with a large footprint of IT compliance (think healthcare, think insurance) does not have the same agility as born-in-the-cloud companies differentiated by their innovative and quickly-pivoted use of IT (think Uber, think Spotify).


Forward planning, the rolling forecast, is critical to actually enable our ability to support that big picture, aspirational agenda.

Carol Wyatt
Director of Enterprise Service Business Management, BSC


Wanting different industries to be more like each other doesn’t make it so; wishing something to be real isn’t a strategy. Framing up the reality (good and for bad) is a brake on ill-thought ideas and validation for plans that should work in specific ecosystems.

Knowing the current state gives you a sense of how to plan your transformation and bridge the skills gap to where you want to be. A current state evaluation can be done  through SWOT analysis:

  • Strengths – Capabilities your team is good at that give them an edge over other business units (e.g. project management, product development).
  • Weaknesses – Things at which your team is vulnerable, where they struggle to deliver results (e.g. governance, customer service).
  • Opportunities – An area of growth that elevates your team’s strategic importance (e.g. agile software development, adoption of AI).
  • Threat – Obstacles your team faces which could stop growth opportunities (e.g. resource capacity, cyber threats).

SWOT analysis influences organization preparedness for cloud migration.

We could see the slow Circle of Death with spreadsheets as we loaded more and more data into it and see it really struggle to handle it.

Jeremy King, VP of Technology Business Management, Globe Life


When an I&O team already delivers a responsive, innovative private cloud, there may be less of a drive to adopt public cloud solutions. The business drive to cloud (fast innovation) may already be served by existing IT solutions.

Conversely, an organization heavily invested in on-prem IT may see an opportunity to forego a tech-refresh of fully-depreciated servers and instead commit to Azure VMs or AWS EC2 compute capacity.


It’s difficult to be business-aligned if you’re not able to show how IT spend and IT costs are aligning with business priorities. For us, it’s about running IT like a business and shifting IT to be very business-aligned. My team and I wouldn’t have been able to do that without the transparency that Apptio provides.

Eileen Baines, CIO, CoBank

Business mindset delivers measurable impact

A SWOT analysis identifies the gaps between perception and provides the foundation for running IT like a business, enabling capabilities such as:

  • Basing investment decisions on financial metrics
  • Measuring (and improving) the dollar value of IT
  • Connecting the dots between business performance and IT contribution.

An ITFM solution such as Apptio IT Financial Management Foundation provides actionable insights on current spend, where you can optimize spend based on service usage, and how to set aside savings to fund your digital transformation.


Life before Apptio was a lot of long hours, tears, anxiety, and lots of stress.

Christina Pastella
Senior IT Finance Manager, Tokio Marine North America Services


Shifting from order-taker to service-provider opens the door to tremendous opportunity for growth, innovation and advancement, but reaching your destination starts with knowing where you’re at and how to get there.

Download 10 Essential KPIs for the IT strategic planning process to learn the best practices that drive the strategic alignment across IT and Finance, by eliminating the disconnect between IT strategy and execution.