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Time to Shift from Business/IT Alignment to Business/IT Alliance

There is no question that alignment between the views and actions of business and IT professionals is critical for synchronizing strategies, priorities, and implementation—hence the commonly used term ‘Business/IT Alignment.’ However, the word align implies that there are two separate and distinct paths that need to be arranged in parallel lines.

To me, the very phrase ‘Business/IT Alignment’ seems outdated and even a bit misleading in terms of today’s requirements. The important thing to understand is that for the companies that are making highly successful technology investments, getting it right involves going well beyond alignment. It involves a highly integrated journey where business and IT interests collaborate and corroborate to create an integrated, unified direction—one that is able to deliver the capabilities that are needed to drive the success of the company.

This is a pivotal time for the industry. Technology is a part of the fundamental fabric of how business is done. All indicators point to the importance of a culture that is conducive to a true alliance between business and IT professionals.

Maybe it’s time to coin a new phrase, like ‘Business/IT Alliance.’ We need to promote the idea that synergy and integration—a mutual effort—are essential for the future success of the business and the industry. There simply isn’t time for IT to operate in an independent, isolated mode, only bringing in business interests periodically along the path of requirements definitions, solution selection, and implementation. 

SMA’s latest IT & budget research indicates the shift from a simple alignment to a true alliance is well underway; the traditional walls surrounding the IT budget are both morphing and exploding. For many companies, it is happening as a result of an increasingly collaborative environment: IT people working more closely with, and even alongside the business professionals to define capability requirements and determine what solutions and approaches best fit the current needs.

As collaboration among business units increases and the integration of processes and data across the insurance value chain becomes reality and the customary funding sources are shifting and expanding. While the bottom-line demand for technology and solution value has not changed, the urgency and spirit of cooperation for the benefit of the company are in the process of changing significantly.

Let me know if you’d like to learn more about how SMA can help with synergy and integration between business and IT. I can be reached at 603.770.9090 or dsmallwood@strategymeetsaction.com.

(Deb Smallwood is the founder of Strategy Meets Action.)


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