Synergy Between Val IT and DTEF: Driving IT Strategy and Outcome Alignment.

In today’s rapidly changing digital landscape, organisations face the complex task of ensuring their IT investments demonstrably contribute to broader business goals. Furthermore, establishing and maintaining digital trust among customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders is paramount. Two governance frameworks stand out as particularly valuable tools in this effort: Val IT and the Digital Trust Ecosystem Framework (DTEF). These distinct frameworks can operate in strong synergy to promote better alignment between IT strategies and overall business outcomes.

Val IT, developed by ISACA, is a governance framework centred on value creation from IT investments (Lombardi, Del Giudice et al. 2016). The core principles of Val IT emphasize:

  • Value Governance: Ensuring boards and executives maintain the right level of oversight and decision-making about IT portfolios.
  • Portfolio Management: Actively managing IT initiatives as a portfolio of investments, optimising the spread of resources for the greatest overall value.
  • Investment Management: Ensuring value creation through rigorous processes involving business case, program management and benefit achievement.

The Digital Trust Ecosystem Framework (DTEF), also from ISACA, offers a holistic approach to the complex issue of digital trust (ISACA 2024). It focuses on the relationships and interdependencies within an organization’s digital environment (ISACA Now 2022). DTEF is designed to align with existing frameworks by adopting systems thinking across the organisation (Tringali 2024). Key areas DTEF addresses include:

  • Governance and Risk: Creating appropriate oversight of digital assets, AI Implementation, risk management, and third-party relationships.
  • Security and Resilience: Robust protection of data and systems against both internal and external threats.
  • Privacy and Ethics: Responsibility in the handling of data, respect for individuals’ privacy, and transparency on the use of AI and other technologies.
  • Human Factors and Culture: Understanding behaviour, education, and building a culture that promotes digital trust.

Where Val IT and DTEF Meet The synergy between Val IT and DTEF becomes apparent when considering the broader goals of IT governance. While Val IT directly addresses the realization of value from IT investments, that ‘value’ cannot be fully assessed without trust. A flawed digital ecosystem, plagued by security vulnerabilities, privacy issues, or ethical missteps, rapidly erodes the value that any technological investment is supposed to generate.

By integrating DTEF principles into the Val IT framework, organizations enhance their investment decision-making. Considering digital trust can act as a sanity check when chasing lucrative opportunities. Here are a few specific examples of how Val IT and DTEF can work together:

  • Portfolio Management: DTEF highlights the need to consider the digital trust impact and dependencies of all IT projects, not just those explicitly focused on security or privacy. This helps ensure that the entire IT portfolio supports a robust digital trust environment.
  • Investment Appraisal: DTEF can help define additional ‘value’ metrics related to trust. Assessing the risk of security breaches, the potential reputational damage from privacy failures, and the longer-term cost of eroding customer trust all become factors to weigh during the investment decision-making process.
  • Value Governance: DTEF reinforces the role of executives and governing boards in digital trust. The framework highlights the need to view digital trust concerns as strategic, not just as operational, or technical challenges. Digital trust is a fundamental component of value creation. The synergy of Val IT and DTEF allows for value-driven IT investments while simultaneously cultivating an environment of digital trust.