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The value of IT lies in its ability to execute strategic business objectives. IT, in its most effective form, is an enabler of the management's innovations and key strategic decisions that ultimately drive competitive advantage. In reality however, setting strategic objectives, putting processes in place to achieve them and realizing the desired results is easier said than done. Organizations of all sizes struggle at times to make this happen, because often, the ability to align and execute a strategy has a much greater impact on value than the choice of strategy.

The root of the problem lies in the distinct silos that are often created in operations, and the gaps that exist across the critical functions of strategy, analysis and execution. Isolated efforts related to defining enterprise strategy and architecture, analyzing and optimizing business processes and executing on day-to-day operations will fall short of success if the three areas do not align. Closing the gaps between strategy, analysis and execution is feasible, but technology and collaboration are critical factors.

Delivering on Strategy with Analysis and Execution

Most organizations have a set of people who are focused on strategy. Strategy includes defining the mission of the organization, setting key objectives, taking an inventory of critical assets: systems, people, data, products, customers, suppliers, services, etc. As well as, outlining plans for growth or consolidation across these assets. The titles vary by organization, but this team often includes executives (such as CIO, COO, CFO, CEO), enterprise architects, strategic planners, program managers and enterprise modelers.

The larger the organization, the more likely it is to be using multiple types of technology to help with these activities -- technologies such as spreadsheets, modeling tools, Visio, scorecards and, of course, the much loved Microsoft Word documents and PowerPoint presentations. The combination of the output of these tools comprises the overall strategic plan -- and provides an understanding of the organization as it stands now and where it would like to go in the future.

So, let's say your company achieves a strong, cohesive strategic modeling function. You have a big-picture view, you know the inter-relationships and dependencies of critical assets and can use your enterprise model to identify the key processes that affect your objectives. Congratulations, you now have complete understanding. Understanding is critical, but understanding without the means to analyze and optimize your use of assets in an effective way (i.e. through effective processes) leaves you with nothing but a bunch of pictures and strategic plans that collect dust.


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