Strategic Thrusts

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Making strategic use of IT. Explanation of Strategic Thrusts of Wiseman, Rackoff and Ulrich. ('85)


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Wiseman, Rackoff Strategic ThrustsThe Theory of Strategic Thrusts is an approach which can be used to link strategy and IT. The theory was pioneered by Wiseman, Rackoff and Ulrich in 1985.


While the pace of competition intensified in the 80s and 90s, simultaneously computers and software applications became more powerful and affordable. No wonder that the use of information systems as competitive weapon has been accelerating ever since. But how can an organization discover opportunities for Strategic Information Systems (SIS)? Rackoff, Wiseman and Ulrich developed and implemented a six-phase planning process to identify and evaluate SIS and to win the support of the top management. Article: "Information Systems For Competitive Advantage: Implementation of a Planning Process" (MIS Quarterly; Dec85, Vol. 9 Issue 4, p285, 10p, 2).

Their 1985 approach is based on a conceptual framework that views an enterprise's suppliers, customers, and competitors as the strategic targets of the 5 Strategic Thrusts (drivers).

What are the 5 Strategic Thrusts? Description

  1. Differentiation
  2. Cost
  3. Innovation
  4. Growth
  5. Alliance

Strategic "Thrusts" are: major competitive moves (defensive or offensive) made by a firm, aimed at one or more strategic targets.

Furthermore, they recommended a staged strategic IT planning process, consisting of the following steps:

Six Steps in the strategic IT planning process

  • Step 1: Present a tutorial regarding competitive strategy and strategic information systems.
  • Step 2: Apply SIS concept to actual cases.
  • Step 3: Consider the competitive position of the company.
  • Step 4: Brainstorm for strategic information systems opportunities (in teams).
  • Step 5: Discuss SIS opportunities (clarification).
  • Step 6: Evaluate SIS opportunities (rating and ranking the proposals).

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  Strategic Thrusts and Understanding Customer Needs
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Strategic Thrusts Diagram

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Compare with the 5 Strategic Thrusts:  Strategic Alignment  |  TDC Matrix  |  Impact/Value framework  |  Twelve Principles of the Network Economy  |  Bricks and Clicks  |  Competitive Advantage framework  |  Delta Model  |  4S Web Marketing Mix

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