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Business/IT alignment is a term that has become so well worn that people sometimes forget its meaning. It's a constant pursuit of the CIO and something that plenty of experts have spent plenty of time trying to define, optimize, and revolutioniz

The Chimera of Business-IT Alignment

Business/IT alignment is a term that has become so well worn that people sometimes forget its meaning. It's a constant pursuit of the CIO and something that plenty of experts have spent plenty of time trying to define, optimize, and revolutionize. But as Doug Newdick points out, very little time is spend discussing business/business alignment. That is, how well the business is aligned unto itself. His argument is clear: the business can't expect IT to align to it, help achieve goals, and be a strategic asset if the business as a whole isn't able to do the same thing for itself. Using personal examples, Newdick explains how he worked for organizations, where most of the products being developed weren't aligned with the business at all, and yet another where different business units wouldn't work together: In another organisation, different business units refused to share the same common back-office application as this would lead to them “losing control”. This went against overarching directives from the executive to use common systems to reduce duplication and cost. This lead to conflicts between IT and one part of the business (departments which funded projects) as IT sought to align with the executive. in other scenarios IT staff came into conflict with one another, as some staff sided with the departmental objectives (delivery, lower cost to the business unit) while other staff sided with the executive (lower cost to the company as a whole, greater overall business agility). While the post doesn't provide any solutions to the observations that he makes, Newdick does pose some interesting considerations that both IT and the business should consider the next time IT/business alignment comes up at the table.

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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