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The Changing Role of IT

The author of this blog post on Business/IT Alignment asks a pertinent question: is IT/business alignment different than any other kind of alignment (such as operations and sales)? If it isn’t, what can be learned from studying other kinds of alignment, and if it is, why? What has become clear to Frank Coster is how IT is perceived primarily as a supplier and treated like a separate “unit” than the business — and handled as such: The discussion on how to manage IT clearly is open ended. From an alignment perspective it doesn’t help — to my opinion — to position IT as separate business, because of the negative consequences. Maybe, this is where IT differs from other departments within the enterprise. Although there is also tension between for example sales and operations, they are part of the same value chain. And HR and Finance are different from “business”-departments, but clearly fill in a supporting role which is not questioned. Looking at IT, they are more or less stuck in the middle. They are often not perceived as part of the business, but IT doesn’t act as a supporting department either. So, maybe this is part of the trouble in alignment discussions. How to position IT, and how to interact with business partners? To change the role of IT into a strategic asset of the business, alignment needs to be defined as simply becoming part of the business’ goals (rather than adapting to fit them). One suggestion is that IT become an advisor to the business, helping provide governance where appropriate.

About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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