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Anatomy of Agile Enterprise

Janne J. Korhonen

In Demand for IT Leadership

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IT Management is about decision-making related to planning, designing, developing, executing, monitoring, controlling and continually improving information technology. IT management teams generally serve well in implementing conservative IT Governance policies, but fall short in providing technological direction and supporting the growth and innovation in organizations. In other words, enterprises lack IT Leadership -- the capability of taking an active role in setting the strategic direction for IT.

The lack of IT Leadership is partly due to the subordinate role that IT has traditionally been given in organizations. First, data processing used to be a supportive function that automated routine tasks; then, IT function grew to a more encompassing service to cater business needs. However, in increasingly many organizations IT has a pivotal role in the development of new business models and creation of new value. In many instances, IT has outgrown its role as a mere supplier. IT Management is not enough.

In my last blog post, I proposed a distinction between Enterprise Architecture Governance (EAG) and Information Technology Governance (ITG) that gives them equal importance. Whereas ITG emphasizes internal efficiency, predictability and accountability, EAG is predominantly a forward-looking function and about external effectiveness and creation of new value.

IT Governance frameworks that focus on compliance and IT control may actually exacerbate the business-IT divide. Rather than relegating IT to a separate function responsible for its own management and governance, the constraints and opportunities of IT for business models and business processes should be understood better. The executive management should recognize IT as a strategic weapon and exalt IT to an intrinsic part of the strategic process.

It is still usual that the Chief Information Officer operates at the tactical level, at best, typically reporting to the Chief Financial Officer, and that the Enterprise Architecture function is placed within the IT organization at the operational level. General leadership is hardly enough to cope with the complexity of both the business environment and the IT landscape. Specific technology-related knowledge is required at the executive level to make justified IT decisions in line with business development. IT leaders and business leaders should work in partnership for the shared vision.

By specifically establishing EA Governance, an enterprise creates a structural substrate to cultivate IT Leadership at high enough echelons. EAG helps to recognize the roles, accountabilities and policies that are needed to give IT the exalted role it requires.

I would like to thank my colleague Kari Hiekkanen of Helsinki University of Technology for productive discussions on this topic.

Janne J. Korhonen provides insights into how information technology can be applied strategically to catalyze organizational change and responsiveness. Drawing from both theory and practice, he discusses agile enterprise and its governance.

Janne J. Korhonen

Janne J. Korhonen is an independent business and IT consultant,specializing in enterprise architecture, business process management,service-oriented architecture and pertinent governance models. He has over ten years of experience as an architect and consultant in a variety of extensive and mission-critical IT projects. With strong theoretical underpinnings, his consulting encompasses systemic co-development of business, organization and information technology.

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