Today, it seems that the Business Relationship Manager (BRM) role is gaining prominence, recognition and momentum. I witness this daily through the incredible interest in and membership of Business Relationship Management Institute and through the lens of no less that 4 LinkedIn groups dedicated to the BRM role. I also see it directly through requests for BRM training and certification, and for demand for consulting in the BRM space.
All This is Great — But What of the Future of BRM?
To gain insight into the future of the BRM role, we need to think about the past, the current state and the two ‘megatrend’ forces acting on the BRM role:
- The BRM role is a result of the need for an efficient, effective, value-driven ‘bridge’ between a service supplier (often an internal IT organization) and its business customers/clients. After 50 years or so where the IT organization and its business customers lived either side of a virtual brick wall, the BRM acts as a window in the wall through which IT-speak and business-speak are translated one into the other, with the result that business demand for IT services and supply of those services is aligned based upon potential business value realization.
- The so-called “consumerization of IT” and the availability of cloud-based services for Software, Infrastructure and Platforms (SaaS, IaaS, PaaS) are another force that is breaking down business-IT barriers.
These forces were in many ways predicted by author and futurist Alvin Toffler, who wrote about the cleavage between production and consumption that in many ways fueled the industrial revolution, and that the technologies of the “Third Wave” would heal that breach with a rise of “prosumerism”– the combining of production (the IT organization) and consumption (the business customer of the IT organization.) I’ve referred in previous posts to this shift in the IT provider-consumer relationship as “convergence” of business and IT.
Is the BRM Role Permanent or Temporary?
If you think through these three forces, you might be drawn to the conclusion that the BRM is a temporary role–one that over time, in conjunction with forces such as cloud computing and the consumerization of IT, tends to eliminate the need for itself. Of course, predicting the future is always a dangerous proposition, but I personally believe that the most successful BRM’s will approach the role as though it is temporary, following a “teach them to fish” philosophy, rather than “catch fish for them.” From my experience, when a role such as BRM is approached in this way, it tends to stay relevant and valued for a very long time.
Mutual Understanding Results in Business-IT Alignment
When there is excellent mutual understanding among the key stakeholders, businesses and their IT organizations become aligned. But the forces acting on both the business and the IT organization impact the dynamics of mutual understanding and over time it is all but impossible to keep business and IT aligned.
Empowerment Results in Business-IT Convergence
When the business is empowered with information and IT through a robust infrastructure coupled with the knowledge and skills needed to drive value from IT capabilities, the type of alignment thus gained is not only lasting, it actually strengthens and deepens over time. The BRM is key to ensuring that the information and IT infrastructure is fully appropriate and properly leveraged, and that the necessary knowledge and skills are in place.
Approach your BRM role as temporary–and it will be forever valued!
Image courtesy of A New World Society