Definitions on Business/IT-Alignment

Posted: December 17, 2010 in Alignment
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The search for a common definition of Business/IT-Alignment didn’t bring up one single version, although the topic is frequently seen in the Top 10 of IT Management issues. This is illustrated by [DeLisi and Danielson] who state:

“There was no generally agreed-upon definition of IT alignment among the CIOs that we interviewed. Indeed, interpretations ranged from alignment as a governance mechanism to alignment as a project portfolio mechanism. Broadly speaking, there was general agreement that IT alignment had to do with the alignment of the IT strategy with the business.”

There is also discussion whether Alignment is a ‘state’ that can be achieved, or a ‘process’ to get to a certain state. The concept of Business/IT-Alignment as a state is further developed by Luftman (2000), who assesses the Business/IT-Alignment maturity level of organizations [Sylvius, 2007]. The concept of alignment as a process, is presented by Weil and Broadbent (1998), by stating that “Alignment is a journey, not an event”.

Although a representative of the state view on alignment, Luftman connects the two perspectives when he states, “The endless, quicksilver shifting of business strategies and technology makes aligning them as difficult as surveying sand dunes in the Sahara. Organizations must draw ‘a line’ in the sand, however, and continuously ensure that the process for aligning IT and business is appropriately managed” [Luftman, 2003].

One definition that expresses both a ‘state’, the degree of alignment, as a ‘process’, the activities or methodology to reach a certain state of alignment:

“Business Alignment, the degree to which IT applications, infrastructure and organization enable and support the business strategy and processes, as well as the process to realize this.” [Sylvius et al, 2009].

One conclusion can be drawn. There is no single accepted definition on Alignment, but it’s clear that Business/IT-Alignment has to do with aligning Business and IT strategy.

References:

DeLisi, Peter S. And Danielson, Ron: A Research Study of IT Alignment.

Luftman, Jerry: Assessing Business-IT Alignment Maturity, Communications of AIS, Volume 4, Article 14, December 2000

Luftman, Jerry N.: Competing in the Information Age, Align in the Sand, Second Edition, Oxford University Press, 2003

Silvius, A.J.Gilbert: Exploring Differences in the Perception of Business & IT Alignment, Communications of the IIMA, Volume 7, 2007

Silvius, A.J. Gilbert, Waal, Benny de, Smit, Jakobus: Business and IT Alignment; Answers and remaining questions, PACIS 2009 Proceedings, 2009

Weil, Peter and Broadbent, Marianne: Leveraging the New Infrastructure, How Market Leaders Capitalize on Information Technology, Harvard Business School Press, 1998

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Comments
  1. Katya says:

    Comprehensive and understandable… made the concept as clear as crystal to me

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