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Internal collaboration crucial to digital transformation

Whether external or internal, collaboration is key to business success -- but it's not always easy. At the Gartner Symposium in Orlando, Fla., SearchCIO talked with Abbas Haider Ali, CTO and digital transformation leader at xMatters, about the importance of internal collaboration not only between IT and the business, but also between other departments within the organization. He emphasized that it's IT leaders' job to help their business counterparts navigate the technology landscape, and that sharing high-level goals goes a long way toward achieving efficient internal collaboration.

How do you coordinate between IT and the business?  

Abbas Haider Ali: Our products serve IT primarily, but our IT customers extend our technology to work with their business counterparts as well. That's actually where I spend about half of my time -- out in the field talking with our customers about what they're doing. One of the really interesting things that we've seen is that the application of technology to business has started to accelerate. You'd hear about it all the time, that software is eating the world, mobile is eating software, then AI is eating mobile.  The general trend is that technology is hungry and eats its predecessor very quickly. It's an area that I spend a lot of time on; helping customers take the latest technology they see on the IT side and look for applications for the business to drive forward their mission. Whether it's in healthcare to improve patient care, whether it's in finance, retail or manufacturing -- all those areas are seeing disruption through technology and, a lot of times, the IT counterparts are best suited to help the business folks navigate through those waters.  

How do you create an effective workplace environment when collaborating with departments across the company?

We focus very much on high-level business metrics and then translate them into very measurable things that the individual teams can do.

Ali: A lot of my work does span lots of our departments. I work very closely, of course, with our product teams, our engineer organizations, our marketing teams, sales, finance -- the whole set. The important thing is to have top-level goals. We focus very much on high-level business metrics and then translate them into very measurable things that the individual teams can do. For example, something as simple as a higher revenue goal can really be broken down into product-specific activities, into marketing-specific activities, and finance-specific activities. It's very important to have those shared top-level goals, but break them out into individual goals that reflect what the primary function of every team is. That makes sure they are all rowing in the same direction and working towards a larger goal, but in concert.

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