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Aligning business and IT is hardly a new topic. It’s been a goal of enterprises for thirty-odd years, but remains an elusive objective for the most part.

In the ebizQ webinar Bridging the IT and Business Divide: Aligning Goals to Achieve Performance,part of the Infrastructure Management: Strategies and Best Practices series, sponsored by Candle Corporation, the company’s Vice President of Application Infrastructure Management, David Caddis, offered pointed pointers on how to do what few have to date.

He cited a recent Society for Information Management (SIM) survey that identified aligning business and IT as the top priority for CEOs and CIOs alike. In fact, Caddis noted, it’s been a “perennial priority.”

Yet, another survey he spotlighted has 63 percent of companies saying business and IT are not aligned, and only seven percent saying business and IT are fully aligned. Also, said the survey, IT managers tend to believe IT and business are better aligned than business managers do, which Caddis called “more evidence of misalignment!”

Why the continuing divide?

Caddis quoted the author of the SIM report, Prof. Jerry Luftman as saying, “You’d think by now somebody would have addressed alignment. My thought is the reason no one has is simple: Everyone is looking for that one silver bullet, which doesn’t exist.”

Caddis observed, “This isn’t just a technology problem, though many companies have tried to tackle it as such. It involves communication, process alignment, and value demonstration. It requires that people have the right tools, skills and, perhaps most importantly, mindset. It also requires persistence and patience, not exactly abundant resources in most businesses.

“Alignment is also always going to be a moving target. Business objectives are always in flux, while IT tends to move in more stable patterns.

“The key recommendation of the (SIM) report is to focus on what can be accomplished now, and take on one aspect at a time.

“At the heart of the problem is communication. Business people speak in business terms, IT people talk in technical terms. And while many companies have created liaisons, (a recent quote from the private business research group The Conference Board says) these people actually spend most of their time talking business to the IT guys and IT to the business guys, and have not really acted as change agents to create meaningful ties between the two sets of stakeholders.”


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