IT is going through a major shift. It’s no longer just about “keeping the lights on,” but also enabling business impact by partnering closely with the various lines of business. The team within IT that is primarily responsible for this is the business technology team (also known as business systems or enterprise applications).

As a result, the business technology profession is experiencing rapid growth. A quick LinkedIn search shows that there are more than 150,000 business technology job openings in the United States alone, which means not only are BT professionals in high demand, but organizations are competing for talent in similar pools.

In today’s new world, the people who oversee our business technologies are bound to become even more important, and with this increased importance comes more pressure. There will be pressure to streamline processes, get closer to customers, support better remote work experiences and generally get more done with less — all worthy initiatives.

Unfortunately, most business technology (BT) professionals are already backlogged and experiencing frustrations with their jobs. The State of Business Technology 2020 Report conducted by Atomik Research surveyed 112 BT leaders and 302 managers across lines of business (LOB) — including in HR, marketing, sales, finance and support. The report (registration required) found that though BT teams are recognized as changemakers in an organization, the majority (91%) are either stymied in their day-to-day work or feel undervalued by the stakeholders they serve. As the only team with a bird’s-eye view across the organization and knowledgeable about the technologies and workflows used by the lines of business, this is concerning.

Their frustrations include:

• Feeling like they can’t deliver fast enough to the LOBs they serve (62%).

• How much they have to say no to stakeholders (40%).

• Their current integration/automation tools (40%).

These frustrations, if not addressed, can halt any company initiatives for greater efficiency, mobility and growth — goals often inherently tied with business transformation.

How To Enable BT Teams

In a survey of 100 global IT executives regarding COVID-19, 28% of respondents felt that IT was “leading the effort to plan for the remote workforce during this coronavirus pandemic,” followed by HR at 18%, other company execs at 18% and operations at 12%. The pandemic has forced many organizations to rethink the way they work, often mandating work-from-home policies never seen before. This has caused both company leadership and IT to think about how to enable a diverse and varied workforce to do their jobs from home and put IT in the front seat.

Under normal circumstances, BT teams are considered “the conveners, facilitators, and drive clarity around key questions needed to meet company goals,” as said by Diana McKenzie, former CIO at Workday.

“Because we can see across, we see where there are opportunities to connect teams, data, and ideas. We have to bring these perspectives back into the company, along with our understanding of what our customers want to see from us as we continue to grow, scale, and introduce more products,” she said.

With such a crucial role to play, the frustrations that many BT teams face can obstruct transformation. To remedy this, company leadership and executive sponsors should consider these questions to enable BT teams to provide rapid value to the lines of business:

• Are you giving them the time and budget to investigate modern platforms that provide faster time to value? Is your BT team mainly working with legacy tools that require specialized resources, especially related to integration and workflow automation? If so, it is time to revisit that. As our research found, 82% of the respondents indicated that they were backlogged with integration and workflow automation projects, while 44% of respondents reported that the tools at their disposal were a top challenge to getting things done, and 38% cited lack of specialized resources.

• Are you enabling them with tools that empower many (with governance) instead of creating silos? Thanks to the SaaS explosion and hyper-specialization by business function, stakeholders want to weigh in on which apps they use. With this comes a shift in the traditional concept of IT centrally controlling all apps. Now, leaders are beginning to see the merits of letting LOBs (especially the operations teams within each LOB) select, build and manage their own applications, processes and automations. But this can be a huge cybersecurity risk without IT oversight. By investing in enterprise-grade low-code tools that provide robust security and governance capabilities, you can allow LOBs to get the quick implementations they need while allowing BT teams to focus on the tasks that drive transformation.

• Are you putting measures in place to drive LOB/BT alignment? BT leaders are very focused on creating trust and partnership with LOBs, but success varies across the different lines of business (according to our report, finance and HR show the most trust in their BT teams). It’s essential to qualitatively track progress and ROI. For example, set up cross-functional objectives and key results (OKRs) between the lines of business and the BT team so they know which metrics to strive for.

BT shows no signs of slowing down as digitizing business becomes the norm, personalized and connected customer experiences are expected, and delivering a great employee experience is key to improving productivity in this work from home era.

To achieve these goals, company leadership and executives will need to empower BT teams and provide them with more productive, versatile tools so that they can address the needs of LOBs in this new normal that we face.