Chapter 8

Strategic Alignment

Tim Campos

In today's business, CIOs have tremendous opportunity to have a major strategic influence on their businesses. This opportunity arises from the rapid adoption of information technology over the past three decades across nearly every aspect of business. When a company wants to merge with another organization, the IT organization is one of the first corporate departments to be involved. When a new plant or facility is opened, the IT organization must be involved to help connect it to the rest of the company's systems. Even when a company reaches into a new line of business, the IT organization is involved to help set up the information systems to support the new business.

This opportunity, however, can also be the CIO's greatest liability if the organization's focus is diluted. IT has been adopted in nearly every business process, even those that are not very strategic. Nearly all employees at companies have e-mail accounts, and every corporation has a web site, regardless of whether it delivers products or services through that web site. Because all of these technology operations must function in order for the business to operate, CIOs must divide their focus and resources across the entire company.

This breadth of demand creates tremendous challenges for IT organizations. It is not good enough simply to focus on those portions of the business that are strategic, to the detriment of everything else. Although this might work in the short ...

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