IT Strategy

e-Book: Guide to Business and IT Alignment

 

The key to successful business IT alignment is understanding the role of IT in business – how does IT help create value for the enterprise. The rest follows. There is plenty of good advice available on business IT alignment. Sometimes, we come across some that makes all the key connections to complete the picture. This week, we are referring you to one such discussion. It goes from the role of IT to using it as a strategic weapon and key things in between. Valuable information for the CIO to grasp.

e-Book: Guide to Business and IT Alignment

IT Roadmap

How to Create an IT Roadmap?

Lying at the intersection of IT Strategy, Enterprise Architecture, and Project Portfolio Management, a roadmap is an invaluable tool in transforming innovation into value. Usually, a visual depiction of this journey to business value.

Arguably, a strategic plan is incomplete without a well thought out roadmap (and a dashboard?). Isn’t a roadmap really a visual depiction of a strategic plan? No matter which side of this debate your opinion falls, it is good to understand how to create meaningful roadmaps.

Toward that end, this week, we are referring you to some sound advice on crafting effective roadmaps.

Read On

Image Source: ProductPlan

How Enterprise Architecture Drives Business IT Alignment

There are many benefits to enterprise architecture planning but, arguably, it’s biggest value proposition is the role it plays in aligning information technology strategy with business strategy. The IT Value – return on investment – equation is fundamentally different with a well thought out EA than without. CIOs should understand this connection to make use of this irreplaceable tool.

Toward that end, this week, we are referring you to an excellent discussion on the relationship between enterprise architecture planning and IT Strategic Planning.

How Enterprise Architecture Drives Business IT Alignment

How does Enterprise Architecture add value?

There are many benefits to enterprise architecture planning but, arguably, it’s biggest value proposition is the role it plays in aligning information technology strategy with business strategy. The IT Value – return on investment – equation is fundamentally different with a well thought out EA than without. CIOs should understand this connection to make use of this irreplaceable tool.

Toward that end, this week, we are referring you to an excellent discussion on the relationship between enterprise architecture planning and IT Strategic Planning.

Hope you find it helpful in your journey!

How Enterprise Architecture Drives Business IT Alignment?

The Anatomy of an IT Strategic Plan

What is a good IT strategy? How do you know you have a winner before it is implemented? CIOs struggle with this question and to be honest there is no way of spotting an Einstein in the womb! However, one can get structural components right and then get ready to improvise!

Toward that end, this week, we are referring you to an excellent discussion on the key components of a “good” IT Strategy.

The Anatomy of an IT Strategic Plan

Introduction to IT Strategy Online Event

As promised, we are starting a series on IT Strategy: How to create a strategic plan for IT. This multi part series will cover key aspects of strategic planning for information technology – just about everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask  😉

The first event in this series is on – surprise!! – introducing IT strategy. We will define the term and make connections important to understanding the big picture. This event is open to our members ONLY. Non-members may purchase a ticket to attend the event.

I will post follow up events shortly – we plan on having one every two weeks or so.

These events are interactive – presentation and discussions – so we are restricting seating to 15 only. First come, first served.

Please send your questions ahead of time so we can address them.

Recording

If you miss the live event, feel free to view the recording. Well, you will miss the opportunity to network so attending live may be more meaningful.

Group Discussion

There are two ways you can continue the discussion before and after the event. Join the IT Strategy affinity group which is open to all or the IT Strategy SIG (Special Interest Group) which is restricted to members only.

Earn A Certificate

Our training participants can take a quiz and upon passing (at least 80% points scored) get credit towards a certificate in IT Strategy. Please note that this is ONLY ONE part of the certification requirement.

Well, I am super stoked about this series and look forward to a lively discussion with you all!

Let me know if you have any questions!

IT Strategy: IT Takes a Village

You know it: you want a seat at the table. Can you get it without creating value? Do you know how to create IT value?

One of the least talked about aspects of IT strategy is the team. Any great idea is useless without execution – unless you have broken the code of team less execution, you will need a team to create an IT Strategy.
Rule 1: IT Strategy is a process
Strategy is that thing that you “do” once every three years or so. One’s time horizon might be different but the underlying logic is the same.
Now, wipe that thought off your mind and recognize that IT Strategy is a process – continuous, closed loop process. You create a strategy then monitor and control it through a feedback loop. This feedback provides real world data when the rubber finally meets the road. IT Strategy then adapts and changes based upon this feedback.
Rule 2: Every process needs a champion:
Without a champion a process is an orphan and the story of orphans do not often make the best seller list.
Who is responsible for IT strategy in a company? Often we get the incorrect response: the CIO!
Yes, this thought conforms to the first rule of management: find a scapegoat! But it does little by way of getting the job done. The CEO is the undisputed leader of an organization. IT Strategy is an issue on their agenda.
Rule 3: Every leader needs a team
Organizations go through decades without actually having an IT Strategy team. There is no clear career path; no job description; no universal titles; little by way of training. Then people wonder why IT is not creating the biggest bang for the buck!
Get a team in place. Train them. Compensate them. Remember, the Titanic sunk because the “lookout” process was flawed.
Rule 4: IT Strategy is an interdisciplinary sport
That “IT” in front of the term often confuses the uninitiated. It is a strategy for IT – in many ways – but it is not for IT to develop. Try doing it in a vacuum and you will have a document – not an IT Strategy. (I get a chuckle out of reading the definition of IT Strategy on Wikipedia – it is apparently a “document”!) Get people from all across the isle and you will unleash unprecedented value – both by identifying the right investment opportunities and getting the cooperation of the people you need to deliver on this promise.
Rule 5: Ownership comes from doing

In this day of extreme outsourcing we have seen just about everything outsourced. From child bearing to child rearing, and everything in between and after, people ask other people to take care of their problems. We have cutesy labels to go with this shunning of responsibility – outsource, in-source, near shore, far shore; vendor, provider, partner and surrogate – intermingled with brilliant theories on business models and core competencies.

There are still some boundaries that have not been crossed. Who knows when fathers will outsource child conception but given the love of outsourcing that day might not be too far along!

IT Strategy is your asset but if you live to be a “problem solver” then take it as your “problem”. You have to solve it. Problems do not solve themselves, you need to own them. Hiring consultants is a good idea – from my vantage point a brilliant idea! – but managing that relationship is what makes all the difference. Pay a consultant enough and he will say and do what you want. In the end though did you get something of value? Respect her expertise and knowing how to combine that with your team’s knowledge of your business? Priceless!

Fact remains: IT Strategy is YOUR problem so OWN it.

In most endeavors in life – it takes a village. IT Strategy is no different. Get a team together. Work with the consultant but please do not outsource your IT Strategy.

You have prayed long enough. Now, your dream to create unprecedented IT value needs wings.

Does Alignment = Value?

Organizations pursue alignment with vigor in the hope of maximizing value. Does perfect alignment equal perfect value? The short answer is no!
Does Alignment = Value?
For more than a decade now the holy grail of IT management has been “Business IT Alignment” – making sure IT investments are in line with business requirements.
Makes sense. If all your IT investments are not supporting a business need then by definition you are going “IT for IT’s sake” or something worse!
However, is the reverse true i.e. does perfect alignment ensure perfect value?
Unfortunately, the answer is an unequivocal NO!
Let me take an admittedly corny analogy to explain. The concept of IT alignment is analogous to “wheel alignment” in a car. (There are many faults with this analogy but for the purpose of this discussion it fits.)
Will a car that is out of alignment give the best gas mileage? The answer is NO. If all four wheels are not aligned with the movements of the car – forward or backward – then they are working against fuel efficiency. Worse they are working on destroying the tires!
However, is the converse true? If a car has perfect wheel alignment then has it optimized fuel efficiency? Unfortunately, as we all know the answer is NO! To name just a few reasons why the car still might not be giving maximum fuel efficiency:
  1. Engine is not tuned
  2. Spark plugs might not be clean
  3. Air filter might be clogged
  4. Oil filter might be clogged
  5. New tires = lower mileage
  6. Bad driving = bad mileage
In other words, wheel alignment does not ensure maximizing fuel efficiency or shall we say, value creation
Alignment is a prerequisite to value creation. However, it is a necessary but not sufficient condition for optimal value creation. The other factor in the equation is asset utilization. Together, they determine value creation.
There is an excellent article on the topic by Bain & Co. consultants. Read the article>>
There is an even better article…read the article>

IT Strategy: Thinking Outside the Box

My suggestion is to throw away the box! Then sanity kicks in and other solutions emerge.
Some of you may see the opening of telecom markets; some the demise of “old economy” cell phone companies; some the dominance of Google. I saw the triumph of innovation.
Apple’s iPhone started it but Google’s plan will change the game for AT&T, Verizon and others. The handheld is now a computer not a mish mash of converging technologies. The competition has to find a way to compete.
Is the proposed handheld very complex to design and manufacture? I don’t think so. Is it too hard to distribute? Not really. Nothing in the entire value chain of this proposed model is complex or difficult. So why could an AT&T not come up with it? Because they have inertia working against them. In order to create something new, you have to destroy what you have. This creative destruction is the hardest thing for organizations to do. This is why incumbents often fail – eyes wide open and unable to move!
IT Strategy, indeed strategy itself, is often deemed inseparable from “thinking outside the box.” This view is on the money. IT Strategy is about ideas and solutions that do not just move your business forward; they help you leapfrog the competition. IT Strategy and innovation are inseparable.
But invaluable as that gem is, the issue as always is in the implementation. All investors know that the path to salvation is in “buy low and sell high” but few can actually pull it off. Innovation is also a beast few have tamed.
Here are a few of things to ponder.
  1. Innovation is a process: Archimedes was at it for a while before his “eureka” moment! Organizations also have to create and embed an innovation process that continually comes up with new ideas and tests them for practical application. Rarely, if ever, will you have your “eureka” moment without this process in place.
  2. Innovation is a team sport: Business is a team sport. IT and “business” are on the same side. Go it alone and lose. Disrespect each other and you lose. Don’t collaborate with each other and lose.
  3. Customer is sometimes wrong: we have been brought up on the mantra that the “customer is always right.” Well, that is wonderful for customer service. It is also useful for innovation but in a different way. As Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” Sometimes you have to lead the customer to what they cannot envision. Henry Ford did as he laughed all the way to the bank. Starbucks does. Indeed all successful organizations at one time or another lead their customers through their vision.
  4. Too much testosterone; too much trouble: Leapfrog does not literally mean bet the farm. More often than not, innovations come in baby steps that seem like giant leaps. They fundamentally alter the face of competition not necessarily your operations. It is the latter that is more difficult to change. It is the latter where a lot of companies fail. Customers also do not jump to an innovation overnight. There is the infamous innovation adoption bell curve that they follow.
 The new mantra is: Innovate or die!

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