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IT-Business Alignment: Enough Already!

Charles Araujo is fed up. No matter how many times we talk about it like it's a fact of life, there is no such thing as “IT-business alignment.” In an article for InformationWeek, Araujo vents his frustration at the perceived separateness of business and IT, and how we should be approaching the situation instead:

I hope I never again hear another IT executive or industry pundit utter that term, the most insidious one ever concocted in the world of IT. The term is wrong on so many levels. It implies that IT and “the business” are somehow separate. It projects an image of two independent entities, each doing its own thing but trying to “stay aligned.” Like two people racing down the freeway in traffic at 100 mph but trying to keep their cars touching. You can see that it isn't going to end well.

Organizational Intimacy

Araujo offers a compelling critique of the current status of IT within the business. Two components of one organization with the best intentions to coordinate have found it difficult to be “aligned”. But the standard remedy (service-level agreements and alignment workshops) is not cutting it. Araujo argues for something controversial at the level of corporate culture – intimacy. Before you start to squirm in your chair, it may be worth noting that intimacy here implies nothing touchy, nor feely.

The Language of Relationships

What Araujo means by intimacy is a simple sharing of fates, of vulnerabilities. For instance, it could be construed as cowardly to simply say, “Let me understand your needs so I can help you in the way I see fit.” That’s the current relationship status between business and IT in a nutshell. But suppose (in typical therapist style) the language is changed to, “I’m willing to accept your shortcomings if you accept mine. Let me know what you would like from me. I’ll do my best to provide.”

The Business Service Team

What this language translates to in practice is the business service team. In fully concrete terms, intimacy between business and IT needs to occur through an end-to-end service team whose primary goal is to ensure a fulfillment of the stated business outcome. The basic premise behind this approach is sound, since it forces individuals from both sides of the divide to encounter problems from the other’s perspective. Talk about marriage counseling!  

Continue reading about the business service team at:

About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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