Regardless of what stage a business is at in its lifecycle — a startup, growing organization, or a mature business — the question of how to handle business and IT alignment is a constant one. As J. Hendrik Smit, MBA explains in his article, “Crucial Business/IT Strategic Alignment,” this question (and the concept in general) attempts to reconcile how an organization can leverage its IT infrastructure to achieve greater market position and higher earnings.
Considerations, according to Smit, that many businesses can use to guide their IT alignment with business practices include customer service-based topics that balance financial performance in the short and long terms. One major consideration he points out is to consider how existing and new technology might decrease or increase customer service. Further, how, if at all, can new technology bring in new customers? Can it provide additional data on new customers so the business can target its marketing efforts? Could new technology help a business break into a brand new industry altogether?
Considerations for Business and IT Alignment
As the IEEE Computer Society points out, there is a three-pronged approach organizations should consider when matching their goals with IT infrastructure over the immediate, short and long-terms. The first leg of this approach is how well the IT staff and the business staff communicate. Are there structured or informal meetings? What, if anything, do these meetings accomplish relative to the organization’s goals to balance IT infrastructure and profitability? The second part is that IT staff should know the business’s industry and the organization’s product or services. Similarly, the business staff should stay current with IT upgrades. Finally, businesses should audit their employees’ soft-skills.
Final Considerations on IT Alignment with Business
Smit highlights that business and IT alignment requires an honest assessment of one’s competitors in order to improve survivability in the short and long terms. Another important consideration in the face of continually changing technology, is how long will the proposed improvements last and is there a plan to review further replacements going forward? Understanding these factors clarifies the importance of aligning IT and business goals. Students enrolled in an online MBA program understand that businesses are always changing and evolving to keep pace with technology and their competitors.
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