Alignment Intro


Five years ago, I identified a growing business trend affecting the way technology professionals engage with their business counterparts.  This shift in expectations and attitudes involved a variety of interactions at the strategic, tactical and operational level.  It was clear, however, that business culture was undergoing a change and that this change would have a ripple effect on IT roles within organizations as well as IT and business consultants working with clients.  To address this new environment and provide the structure to respond with business services, we formed a new professional practice area within our business consulting services: Business/IT Alignment (BITA).   Over the past five years, we have defined approaches, best practices and potential deliverables that contribute to the delivery of BITA services. These have been used successfully with ‘early adopter’ clients struggling with the changing culture.

It hasn’t been easy, however.  Although the reality of the evolving business/IT relationships now seems apparent (and has been recognized early by a small number of organizations), it has taken longer for others to identify the trends.  Helping clients to understand the purpose and the value of a BITA engagement has been an educational activity that for the most part has been well received; getting clients to back that understanding with specific budget and resources has been a longer struggle.  Even within our own IT consulting industry, there have been some high profile sceptics arguing that this concept of the ‘alignment’ of business and IT isn’t real, or isn’t valid, or isn’t an issue – because they hadn’t encountered it.  That’s the same type of narrow thinking and limited experience that would have considered the ‘internet’ to be a fad or that the ‘world wide web’ had no business value! It’s hard to keep something moving forward when only a few individuals seem to ‘get it’, but we have persisted because we have been convinced this was the right direction.

Just as we’re at the point of concluding that perhaps we’ve been too far ahead of the trend on this and need to focus on more traditional and operationally visible services, we see a break in the clouds.  Forrester research analyst, Jeff Scott, in this article from CIO.com, clearly outlines a strategy and approach specifically targeting Business/IT Alignment.  Although emerging from an Enterprise Architecture perspective, the essential points are sound, and reflect the same approach and structure that we have developed and been applying in our Business/IT Alignment practice for the past five years.  I don’t expect that there will be any dramatic change in the industry or our clients’ budget allocations for BITA services, but it is very reassuring to know that we were not off-track in our thinking, planning and direction. This article indicates that BITA is now being recognized not just as a topic for debate, but as a needed service that is entering the industry main stream.

Please take some time to read this excellent article by Jeff Scott, and if you decide, as we have, that Business/IT Alignment is real, necessary and a core element in your business strategy, let’s talk!

Jeff Scott – Don’t Just Build Business-IT Alignment, Map It

 

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All the Business/IT Alignment posts will now automatically be tweeted as well! Not on Twitter? You can join at – www.twitter.com.

Great quote contributed by one of my sisters, which really needs no further comment:

“The art of leadership is to work with the natural grain of the particular wood of humanity which comes to hand.” John Adair

OK time for a new poll – would you use this app if it were available for your city?  Please send this to anyone you think would be interested!  If you could add your city as well in the ‘Other’ line, that would be helpful information for trending!  Thanks for your assistance.

It’s easy to talk about business/IT alignment using a lot of very nice concepts and big nebulous words like ‘governance’ ‘strategy’ ‘accountability’ ‘objectives’…and so on, but what does it really mean?  Unless the concepts can be translated into something that is practical, useful and viable, all we have is an interesting academic or philosophical discussion.  I love it when I find something that takes the basic principles of business/IT alignment and turns those into something real, tangible and practical.  Canadian company fusedlogic has done exactly that by applying their technology expertise to improve a personal and community experience: using transit.  Take a look at the new application on their site: http://www.fusedlogic.com/iphone-public-transit-application-2126/

With a growing interest in shared public transportation to reduce personal transportation costs as well as contribute to environmental improvements, one of the driving issues is timely access to bus, train and route information.  In extreme climates (whether that’s heat or cold) this can even be considered as a health issue!  fusedlogic has tapped into the demographic range and device/channel preferences to develop a new iPhone application that can access city transit information at the touch of a screen, find your routes, identify stops and even provide estimates on arrivals!  Providing this service only requires an agreement with the local municipal transit authority to share information.

Now seriously, who wouldn’t want their city to provide this?  And for cities considering doing this themselves, I have to question whether it is an appropriate use of city resources to re-invent the wheel – especially if it would only work in one city!  Every municipality should be jumping on this to provide a current, helpful citizen-centric service like this with minimal cost or maintenance required by city resources.

And if that isn’t REAL business/IT alignment, I don’t know what is!

I have approval from the university to share the following Open Letter from the President of Athabasca University to all students.  If you are concerned about how Canadian copyright legislation may be revised and potentially restricted through the current review, please make your views known at the government discussion site noted in the letter.  Please respond to the poll as well: http://suzviews.wordpress.com/2009/08/22/polldaddy-poll1903932/

August 2009

Open Letter to All Students,

The Government of Canada has launched a nationwide consultation on copyright modernization, which ends on September 13th. The government is currently preparing new copyright legislation that is anticipated for delivery this fall, which could resemble Bill C-61, which died on the order paper during the last Parliament. If you are interested or concerned about copyright reform please visit the copyright consultation website at http://copyright.econsultation.ca/.

Universities have an interest in protecting copyright as producers of intellectual and creative content and also in fair dealing as researchers and teachers. So, we do support legislation that both protects copyright owners from infringement and protects the rights of educational users. However, any legislation similar to Bill C-61 will have profound negative effects on researchers and educators as well as the general public. There were five substantive issues contained in Bill C-61, which were of concern; noncircumvention measures, format shifting, contractual over rise of fair dealing, statutory damages, and destruction of content. We have provided a briefing note on these five issues that you could raise.

It will place Canada at a disadvantage internationally and will even more significantly marginalize e-learning and distance education. E-learning institutions now reach over 20 million learners per year with Canada as a recognized world leader in telecommunications and learning. This legislation could well end our ability to contribute to building Canadian and overseas learning communities. Countries with wiser copyright regimes that promote educational use will catapult ahead of Canada. No longer will we be internationally competitive because of the restrictions contained in the legislation. We need to seek balance between the protection of rights, the rights of learners, and our international competitiveness in distance and e-learning.

I would like to request that you contact Hon. Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, Hon. James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage, and your Member of Parliament to raise your concern about this potential legislation. If you are not aware of your Member of Parliament and require their address, you can obtain this information on the Elections Canada website http://www.elections.ca or at http://www.parl.gc.ca. A list of contacts and their addresses (pdf) is available if you choose to raise your concerns further.

Please inform us by email (copyrightlobby@athabascau.ca) of any correspondence you send to the federal government.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Frits Pannekoek, PhD
President
Athabasca University

Related Documents: Copyright Legislation Overview (pdf)