Holidays ending up shortly, it is time to rise up a little bit our views and to start discussing about Strategy.
When reviewing papers regarding IT Strategy, they often talk about IT Strategic alignement. Most of them seems to assert that the only acceptable strategy for IT is to be aligned with Business. Despite this general point of view, when rewinding the tape, some messages looked questionable.
For instance, when considering strategy you deal with long term goals and action plans. As it seems obvious, the spreading of strategic planning methods like Balanced Scorecard (BSC) has set the long term line to next year which is pretty short. Are we really still in strategy ?
First of all, there are the goals which draw up the vision. What will be the company during the next period, what will be the IT ? A long term company goal may be for instance “Changing the rate of a given type of business in the Revenue during the next 3 years” while a long term IT goal may have been “Improving IT productivity of 5% during the next 3 years”. Often goals are more or less short term : “Improving customer relationship process”, “Control and Manage Maintenance cost”,… It is not clear that these goals should be a part of the action plan.
Then, it comes to define actions scenarios to reach the goals. The best is to start with a SWOT analysis of the current situation regarding the goals. Then, you should identify all possible moves to go ahead. For each move, you now have to qualify impacts on competitors or internal resource and imagine their own move in response. And again identify what the company may do to respond to these moves.
Scenarios may end to be pretty complicated, and then, complex to assess. The set of scenarios represent the possible paths for the firm to achieve its goals from now to the long term line. Once company has selected a path, it may jump to another path according to a change in the business context or to a new risk. Sets of scenarios draw the maps which support the roll out of the Strategy.
Then Business Alignment may be considered as only a characteristic of IT Strategy which is still to be defined in each case according to a long term vision of IT role in the firm activity.