After several years of economic contraction, things are finally beginning to look up. Mergers and acquisitions in the tech sector increased 23.1 percent in 2010 according to Thompson Reuters data. Gartner forecasts that IT spending in 2011 will increase 5.6 percent, a revision of its earlier forecast of 5.1 percent. Many businesses appear to be transitioning from cost-cutting mode to focus on business growth once again.
At the same time, technology in various form factors, such as cloud computing, has evolved significantly to enable more capabilities than ever before, creating pent-up demand. After squeezing ever more efficiency from existing systems in the name of cutting costs businesses have no choice but to reinvent how they grow—and they’re looking to technology to enable that.
This change in the business climate has resurfaced the now age-old call to align business and technology. However, in a world where everything is becoming connected, fluid and mobile, aligning technology with business is no longer a relevant way of thinking about the problem. These days, the business is technology, so technology must empower the business.
Asking whether your business and IT are aligned is really the wrong question. Because when companies do achieve some level of alignment, such as synchronized budgeting for example, many of the typical IT challenges persist: inflexible structures that are slow to accommodate new business processes, data and IT sprawl, escalating operating costs, and so on. IT continues to operate in silos, and is not really aligned with the business at all.
The concept of aligning IT with business is problematic because it is based on the perception that IT and business are two separate things. But these days, the business and IT are one. Could anyone have conceptualized a company like eBay or Amazon without a technology impetus? How about global companies operating in real time? Or even something as simple as e-mail communication?
Thinking about technology as a business driver is much more powerful than simply thinking about aligning the two. This signals a fundamental shift in the role that IT plays within an organization. As business needs evolve, so too does the need for enterprise IT to not just support the business, but to empower it. A new vision is needed to bring IT into the future. Do you agree?