IT author and thought leader Phil Simon doesn’t mince words.

But, when most IT departments are mired in “chaos” – as Simon clearly believes they are – straight talk is precisely what’s needed. How else can we engage in meaningful conversations to help us plot a course across this bumpy landscape?

Consider this: In his recent Q&A at BusinessFinance, Simon urges companies to start bridging what he calls “the IT/business chasm” so that they can begin to fully realize the benefits of today’s emerging and rapidly maturing technologies. For Simon, the fundamental question is this:

Does IT drive the technology of the organization, or is it responsive to it?

To add a little perspective, he outlines three possible scenarios, using a political analogy:

At the "far left" you have IT departments that are very involved; there's a lot of control over who gets to do what, things are locked down. At the other end — the right wing if you like — you have almost a libertarian IT department; they basically get the hell out of the way, and they only respond when there's some sort of crisis like a network emergency or security breach. In the middle you have a moderate view of IT as a business partner: IT should own the data, but they tend to be the people who are forced to deal with it.

Where does your department fall in this spectrum? Are you left, right, or somewhere in the middle? And how big is the chasm between your IT organization and the business, as a whole?

I’m sure you’ve probably heard the old adage which says that recognizing the problem is the first step in finding the solution. Well, it’s time for IT managers need to make this first step. It’s time to take a hard look at your department and recognize its strengths –and its weaknesses –in terms of broader business management.

We all know that the C-suite is clamoring for a better understanding of the true cost of IT, and clearly, that requires greater IT cost transparency and financial analysis. For many, meeting these new mandates will involve adopting standard business practices, such as budgeting and activity-based costing (ABC).  That’s new territory for most organizations, but it’s work that must be done. As Simon points out, the IT/business chasm needs to be closed and managing and analyzing the financials of IT operations is a crucial first step.