Owen McCall takes on the well-worn subject of IT/Business alignment in this post on his blog. McCall first highlights how important IT/Business alignment is and how much of a space it’s taken up in white papers, blog articles, and conferences over the past umpteen years. And this makes sense, really, given that it’s often cited as the biggest problem between IT and business. McCall then draws the line on the argument with the following paragraph:
The problem is that while I agree that maximising the business value from IT is the central mandate for a CIO I believe that the logic supporting alignment as the way of doing this is fatally flawed. Why? Because to believe that alignment is the most important thing requires that you believe that IT and the business are separate objects (alignment is “the adjustment of an object in relation with other objects”). Alignment in a world of unity or an integrated world is nonsensical. Actually, I’ll take this a step further; the fact that we practitioners of IT see ourselves as somehow different from the business in which we operate creates the problem of needing alignment. If we simply changed this belief and replaced it with a belief that IT is the business, or perhaps more correctly, is within the business, then the issue of alignment goes away.
Seems easy, right? Well, in part that’s because it can be. Yes ““ there are silo activities within IT which can make a complete involvement difficult. However, thinking of IT as part of the business is basically just a linguistic change ““ and that can happen almost immediately. The trick of it, seemingly, is creating a cultural change between how IT defines itself in relation to the business and how business views IT (as part of the overall organization or some necessary but separate entity supporting the organization).