If you’re like most IT leaders, you’re likely feeling pulled in different directions and inundated by technology requests from multiple business functions. How can you cut through the noise, ensure the highest-level priorities are addressed, educate business leaders about the benefits of emerging technologies, and ensure that these tools and services deliver tangible ROI once deployed?

The answer, according to a recent CIO article by Minda Zetlin, is to hire a business relationship manager (BRM), a role she defines as “a bridge between business and IT.” According to Zetlin, “One of a business relationship manager’s most important functions is to help determine which requests and initiatives should be given immediate priority, and which should wait or be set aside altogether.” Following are some examples of how a BRM can deliver value for your organization:

  • Make sense of your existing portfolio and projects. BRMs have the right blend of technical knowledge and business acumen to analyze processes, systems, and investments, assess their value, and provide recommendations either for addressing any areas for improvement or scrapping the project until a later time.
  • Identify unmet technology needs. Zetlin acknowledges that this can be cause for concern for many CIOs, but she writes, “The truth is, your organization will benefit from eliminating or delaying projects that don’t create immediate value—but also from finding opportunities to add value even if business leaders aren’t aware of them.”
  • Educate business leaders on what tech can—and can’t—do. Again, a prerequisite skill for any BRM is the ability to inhabit both the technical and business worlds. As such, the role can go a long way in helping dispel the confusion surrounding various technology investments. For example in the case of data analytics, business leaders often struggle to understand the level of work and investment required to truly derive actionable intelligence. Having someone who can explain these requirements in business terms can help organizations avoid miscommunication and frustration and, ultimately, be more successful in their data science initiatives.
  • Represent absent business leaders. As Cassio Dreyfuss, vice president at Gartner, told Zetlin, “The book says once you develop a solution for your internal business clients, the representative for that client is required to attend team meetings, perform testing, and other things. The truth is, they say ‘Yeah, we will participate,’ and they don’t.” When these situations arise a BRM can easily step in and act as the surrogate client, helping to mitigate any schedule disruptions and keep the project moving forward.
  • Find technical synergies across business domains. Given that BRMs are exposed to a variety of technology initiatives, it’s a natural progression for them to identify ways to extend the benefits of individual projects or deployments to different departments and potentially enterprise-wide.

Check out Zetlin’s article in its entirety here for more on the BRM role and how to evaluate whether now is the right time to bring one on board in your organization. With the pace of technological change only expected to increase as 5G, AI, and other disruptive technologies mature, having a leader experienced in both technology implementations and business goals could be a key strategy for staying ahead of the competition.