Thursday, April 20, 2006
IT/Business Alignment and the President of China
Earlier in the day, I had the opportunity to speak to an industry analyst in the UK whom seemed to be incredibly insightful on the concerns that enterprise architects face. The funny thing is that I seem to always feel this way as most UK-based analysts tend not to talk about meaningless product/vendor babble like their US counterparts but instead focus on issues that actually matter. Would love to know why this is the case.
Awhile back, a coworker (Hi Missy) introduced me to a game affectionately labelled as "bullshit bingo" that she actually tested out without my knowing during one of the presentations I was giving. The intent of the game was to look for "phrases" that are often used by IT executives but have no longer any real meaning. Examples such as strategic, agile, synergies, getting ducks in order, etc all come to mind.
The industry analyst is focused on research related to IT/Business alignment and genuinely wanted to know my own thoughts on this topic. Nowadays, alignment has turned into capture somewhat questionable metrics and turning up a notch the notion of selling of ideas to non-technical audiences. The notion of distillation is starting to get popular in our EA vocabulary. In thinking about this problem-space I figured I would provide guidance not only to his research in my blog but teach other IT vendors who didn't get the memo you must stand on a soapbox and state the obvious with passion and that doing anything other than that like trying to focus on your core expertise is sometimes futile.
- Choose projects that provide the most business benefit!
- It is important to find an executive sponsor!
- It is cheaper to buy vs build!
- IT should be run like a business
- We need to do more with less
Vendors, don't actually worry whether your solution is best fit or even works at all. Say phrases such as these and many folks will start to fall in love with you. Of course, we understand that enterprises that have really achieved alignment aren't running around their hallways with cliche phrases and instead are focusing on what each individual truly has expertise in (Business folks focusing on the business and Architects focusing on technology) and both parties actually trust each other, but that will never be reality unless us Americans start reading the analysis of our UK counterparts.
During lunch I learned of a protest by the Falun Gong of which I have the utmost respect for during the speech of Chinese President Hu Jintao and thought to myself how this really correlates to IT/Business alignment. For example, if Kathy Gifford and I wanted to start an apparel business in one of the Central American countries using cheap labor there would be mass protest but if I wanted to hire cheap illegal labor here I would get a different result.
Many folks in the past attempted to fight China of its Most Favored Nation status citing political abuse, conflicts such as communism, and child labor laws but in the end none of this really mattered to the leadership as economics is king. Doesn't this feel kinda like enterprise architecture and IT/Business alignment?
Isn't IT/Business alignment really a funciton of governance? Isn't governance really about changing behavior models and not financial controls? Maybe several bloggers can start noodling what governance 2.0 looks like?