“Business-IT Alignment is wrong. It doesn’t mean anything to the business”. When I heard these words during a local IT conference last year, I was first quite puzzled. The longer I think about it, the more I must say: It’s true.
So, what’s wrong with business-IT alignment, that mantra everybody is talking about since years? Well, of course we all try to align every day. Unfortunately it usually goes like this: Business moves left – IT moves left. Business moves right – at the time IT is there, business is already somewhere else. A CIO which doesn’t want to align to the business? This is hard for me to imagine. After all, this has become a no-brainer and at the same time a race we can’t win, isn’t it? Every consultant telling a CIO that he doesn’t align should be shoot to the moon. Yes, we should improve our IT governance, processes and capabilities – this way we will align better and faster. We try this every day in our IT departments – some say, one day ending in the heaven of pure IT service brokerage. But does this make a real difference for the future of your company? Let’s go back two steps to find this out.
What is the answer of IT to the business strategy? There is no ‘answer’ of IT. There is no such thing as an IT strategy. There is only a business strategy. There is no business in IT (Running IT as a business, what a rubbish), only business in business. But you as IT can become part the business. So, the primarily question shouldn’t be what the business wants from you, but what you can do for your business to make them succeed. In today’s world, you can be in the business by building a digital business strategy and helping your company becoming part of the digital transformation age we live in. Corporations need to build up the digital capabilities to beat competition. IT departments need to understand that all industries are currently undergoing a deep transformation and it’s NOW or never that they have this little window in which they can make an impact and build the digital capabilities. Look at the traditional book industry, which was transformed to digital. Look at the physical music stores that have disappeared. Look at the software industry, which is shifting towards cloud delivery. And finally look at the traditional taxi industry, which is fundamentally changed by the disruptive innovation Uber– it’s happening right now.
It’s crucial to understand what’s currently going on. If you miss this as a company, you will lose. This is where you can make the difference and make a real impact. I believe most CEO’s already realized this, but at the same time CIO’s are still talking about business-it alignment. The traditional CIO role is currently transforming to the Service Broker (making himself obsolete one day?) and there is still a lot of work to get there, yes, but combining it with the new CDO role is the key to success. Business-IT alignment is not sufficient, you have to bring it to the next level, become an entrepreneur and make the game. Think about it and make it happen.