If there’s one thing we’ve learned in IT over the past few years, it’s that if you say that something will help with “IT and business alignment,” you’re pretty much guaranteed it’ll get some attention. And IT and business alignment continues to top CIO agendas as a priority year after year. So WHY would anyone question the meaning of such a harmonious and universal phrase?
That’s just what David Ratcliffe, president of Pink Elephant consulting, did in a blog posting this week. According to Radcliffe, IT and business alignment is not where it’s at anymore. Instead, it’s about IT and business integration.
Ratcliffe explains that, “if IT is ‘aligned’ with the business that means it’s separate and is trying to line up. IT is not a separate entity from the business, it’s PART of the business.”
I understand Ratcliffe’s’s point. IT does need to become an integral part of the business. And maybe it is time to update the “IT and business alignment” term and mindset. But alignment is still where it’s at. Now it’s a matter of what specifically needs to be aligned.
Up until now, IT and business alignment was mainly about governance. Companies were setting up formal internal structures for IT and the business to effectively work together toward common goals.
But alignment today should be more about processes and metrics. IT still needs to align with the business on common goals, but it also needs to align on the types of processes and metrics it uses. The IT organization needs to start using metrics that show how technology is positively affecting the business.
The same goes for processes. There are business processes and service delivery processes. Both are run separately but have the same goal of improving the business. By using similar metrics and processes, IT and the business can better communicate and reach common goals.
In the end, alignment is still king. It’s just a matter of taking alignment to the next level.