Alignment of business and IT or rather non-alignment is an aspect mauled to shreds. Some bluntly put it that alignment is non-existent and its two parallel organization.
While some credibly believes its matter of right attitude and few frameworks, I haven’t come across a proven way to resolve the issue completely.
Vendor community and customers have debated and institutionalized various alternatives, best practices and solutions intended to resolve it but with minor success.
In my experience, there are few exceptions in the form of countries like Singapore, being a technology bellwether themselves.
This island nation has relentlessly worked to differentiate them using technology and thus imbibing Technology Business interdependence and corresponding alignment in institutions. So is it always top down? How does it translate to converge the parallelism?
Donned multiple hats within my IT voyage, which invariably puts me in a self-styled state to reflect perspectives to this debatable but fundamental aspect.
Partial explanation lies in the very question of why IT and Business are parallel tracks. Two critical functions of the same company: business as revenue generator and IT as enabler, strategically can never be considered two different entities with parallel directions.
Once this rudimentary concept is construed and digested, a possible base is laid.
Now, how could one create oneness betwixt two entities without compromising on their function individualities?
I would pin on three possible ways:
1. With CIOs’ common KPI’s as technology innovation and cost optimization, aren’t we seeding the disintegration at inception? Isn’t CIO a business stakeholder? Revenue growth should be the main KPI thus making IT directly accountable for business growth.
That brings the alignment naturally. It’s simple as in simply complex. CEOs’ and CFOs’ have to keep an unparalleled view to ensure above discipline.
2. Why does Business lament that IT has its own agenda when the whole existence of IT is to ensure business survives and thrives? Paradoxical!
Majority of the IT projects don’t or have blurred business value corresponding to the change. So one can’t blame business for reprimanding it as an IT agenda. Achieving an IT outcome is given rather the business case as the name implies should clearly articulate the business essence. It requires constant dialogue betwixt IT and Business during the conceptualization and business case creation stage.
Collaborative thought process during the whole case creation cycle is the key to avoid conflict of interest and tangency at the final stage.
3. Avoid been coyly defensive on so called “typical IT projects”. Those jargons are practically Non-existent. Classic tag line of a disinterested business.
It’s a direct consequence of a fragile business case or a convenient misinterpretation. Every change, irrespective of the size, complexity and ease, has a business impact directly or indirectly. One should know to put it in the right business context. Chutzpah!
So will above ensure the much coveted alignment? Depends on how objectively the above subjective suggestions are implemented. In an innate IT parlance, it’s a framework, which can steer institutions towards the alignment.
Vijoy Varghese is the Vice President for Asia Pacific at Zensar Technologies