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The End of IT Alignment

past futureA funeral will not be necessary for IT alignment. After all, it never quite actually existed in the first place. The idea of alignment comes from the idea that the “business” and IT are two separate entities that must be brought together, when the strict reality is that they are not and never have been separate entities. And according to a blog post from Manage Without Them, the convergence of the commoditization of IT and the socialization of business further unifies the two in a way that renders the language of alignment obsolete.

The main concern then as business and IT find their way back to each other becomes that IT is treated as the arbiter of all information that passes through the company. IT systems begin with people who understand the details of the system, and as these people leave and new people replace them, the same IT system remains even as the people who grasp the system details disappear. All the same, when problems arise, it falls into the lap of whoever the “IT guy” is, and it becomes that person’s responsibility to study and learn the lost details of the system. It may arise that the system in place may not even fit with the times anymore, though it would be hard for anybody to know when nobody understands the system anyway. The point is that responsibility for the IT system must be shared, and the system must function as part of a larger framework. The idea of arbitrarily trying to compartmentalize the business becomes silly in light of all the good that comes from doing just the opposite:

I could also track a whole history of cross-functional collaboration within organisations. Every single problem in every single organisation appears to be solved by “a cross-functional team” right? In fact, the whole structure of management education has become about educating future managers that a. All organisations are made up of common functions (IT, HR, Finance, etc) and b. that there job as managers is to coordinate across these functions.

Business is not the IT customer. IT is part of the business. As the blog says, if you want to differentiate yourself from the competition, you need to “build hard-to-replicate capabilities that combine people, process, information, and technology. It’s the integration of all of these that creates value.” Think of the business and its IT department as a healthy growing body, and leave alignment to rest in peace.

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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