Practical Implementation of IT Strategy

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Practical Implementation of IT Strategy
Ken Gordon MBA PMP, SIG Leader
The Venkatraman model for strategic alignment offers a framework for understanding the organizational drivers for technological development and alignment. These drivers will change over time and alter the loci of the decisions that will affect the technological strategy.
However, strategy should not change over the short term. How then does the organization resolve conflicts in the direction of organizational drivers of technology strategy? I would posit that the perspectives offered in Venkatraman's framework should be viewed as being inclusive in the development of IT strategy and that the resolution of conflicts will be dependent on the technological maturity of the organisation.

This is because the technological maturity of the organisation will impact positively on the ability of the various stakeholder to understand and appreciate the perspective of others in relation to the perceived developmental and maintenance requirement of the IT infrastructure.

With this maturity comes a realism which tempers what is ideal with what is optimum. i.e. sunk costs will have the major influence.

Strategic Alignment and In-House Talent
Maria Ford MBA
As reflected in the Venkatraman framework diagram, the IT and business domains are reliant on each other. While I agree with Mr. Gordon that sunk costs are one of the most important considerations for organizational technology strategy, the other equally important consideration is in-house talent. Certifications are today's standard, but lack of know-how and experience are detrimental to any organization and cannot be planned for. They are usually realized after hiring and numerous costly errors. Yet, we continue to hire certified inexperienced talent. There has to be a happy medium established so that sunk costs are not involved with poor talent.

Business & IT Strategy
Sunil Attarde
Good Article/post - Summarizes in nut-shell How IT & Business strategies impact each other and can be effiectively used to compliment each other.

Strategic Alignment and In-House Talent.
Ken Gordon MBA PMP, SIG Leader
The technological platform of an organisation must necessarily be considered as the primary driver of the requirements for technical skills. Legacy technical skills are equally difficult to resource as state of the art technical skills, although for different reasons. In order to improve the level of technological maturity decisions must be made regarding the mix of old and new technologies and how these are to be integrated. A transformational road map must be developed to take the organisation from the old to the new world. The organisational skills base required for this journey is a key consideration which must be planned effectively. However, I would consider the development of an In-House IT Capability only as strategic where these are deployed to maintain mission critical applications. Use of third party resources is many times to be preferred as the requirement to maintain the skills base is significantly reduced.

IT & Business Strategy
Good overview of the effect of IT on Business Strategy. But it has given so much importance on IT. It seems to be an alternative of human beings. Which is not true in any case. However it is good to explain the effect of IT on Business Strategy.

Alignment as Process
Mark Tocco
The Venkatraman Framework is useful for establishing possible perspectives. Alignment achievement must be a process in my opinion to be successful. As a process it should have a starting point which I would submit should be enterprise strategy and organization (assuming an existing situation).
My assumption here is that an organization will have a strategy and structure that must be considered. A useful way of evaluating this determinant is the Value Discipline Approach (M. Treacy and F. Wiersema). Companies usually succeed at delivering a particular type of business value such as operational excellence, customer intimacy or product (or service) leadership. Once identified this overarching strategic concern will allow the optimized usage of one of the perspectives defined by Venkatraman to better assess and adopt key alignment criteria like business processes, organization and skills, management systems and technology platforms and applications.

No Practical Application
Scott Scott, Member
Whilst the strategic alignment model is of conceptual interest it has little or no practical value when it comes to the strategic management of IS/IT or reaching and sustaining a state of "alignment". Alignment is important, after all it needs to meet business requirements, or the business needs to be capable of exploiting IT opportunities, but by focusing on the alignment concept we are distracted from the real quest - delivering value from IS/IT investments.
We need to remain focused on analysis of the benefits, drawbacks, and implications of IS/IT investment decisions and put most of our efforts into careful implementation of our strategic choices. Perhaps somebody has a practical example where the Strategic Alignment Model has provided unique or original insight that has led to business value that would not have otherwise been delivered.
For an interesting critique of the Strategic Alignment Model, read De Profundis by Ciborra.

No Practical Application
Ken Gordon MBA PMP, SIG Leader
Hi Scott, I have read your post with great interest and would agree that whilst 'Strategic Alignment' is an excellent analytical concept, it indeed falls short in the perceived delivery of 'tangible business benefit'.
However, in my experience there is a real and tangible dissonance in many companies between business operations and the IT department. This dissonance is to some degree explained by the contrasting views held by the different camps, relating to 'Strategic IT decision making' and the perspective from which these views are derived.
Therefore the Venkatraman framework is of value primarily in exposing and thereby potentially harmonising of these perspectives towards an improved cooperation and more positive organisational experience in strategic development and implementation.
Delivering value from IS/IT investments is a high order measurement challenge, in itself made wicked by intangibles which, whilst strategically desirable, are nonetheless impossible to scientifically measure nor foresee. I will have a read of 'De Profundis by Ciborra', thanks for the reference.

Alignment as Process
Ken Gordon MBA PMP, SIG Leader
@Mark Tocco: Hi Mark, I agree with all that you have said regarding the continuous nature of Strategic Alignment as a process. I would also add that in the technologically advanced environment that business' now must operate, the types of business value that you have described will each be underpinned by a dominant IS/IT base in that arena. Hence these technological choices will necessarily have already been made. Many times these choices are made without a robust strategic development process underlying and are therefore open to discontinuities and disruptions from a lack of flexibility. Therefore a more self aware and inclusive (of contrasting views) process is facilitated by analysis using the Venkatraman framework to understand the implication and impacts of these vectors. It is, as you say, in the identification and promotion of the most strategically beneficial perspective, to a position of dominance within the alignment process, that is the best use of Venkatramans model.


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Ken Gordon MBA PMP
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