Technology has become the driving force of business as organizations look to IT to innovate business models, improve customer intimacy and deliver superior business results in a competitive and complex environment. In order to fully leverage the benefits technology can deliver, business and technical stakeholders need to collaborate in new and different ways, which requires different skills and knowledge for both parties.
Aligning business and IT is not a new topic. It has been a top-of-mind concern for chief information officers (CIOs) during the past decade but it has only recently made it to the chief experience officer’s (CXO) list of priorities. With the drive to do everything in a digital way — business stakeholders are now engaged and looking for ways to leverage the mega-trends of social, mobile, big data and cloud.
Alignment is not an easy task. It is not something that you do once a year during your strategic planning process — it is a new way of collaborating and working together.
There are a number of different definitions for business-IT alignment. If you perform a Google search using the phrase “Business-IT alignment” — you get over 21,100,000 results.
While definitions vary, there are common elements that can be found in many of them:
- The outcome is a positive result of business performance (either quantitative or qualitative).
- Alignment is evolutionary and dynamic.
Alignment addresses both doing the right thing (effectiveness) and doing things right (efficiency).
Achieving true alignment is not a simple task because it requires:
- Support from senior leaders
- Strong relationships built on trust and effective communication
- A thorough understanding of both the business and technical environments
- The ability to prioritise IT programs and projects to deliver business value
In order for true alignment to exist, IT must be aligned to the business and business must also be aligned to IT.