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e-planning in changing times

Since the early 70?s, academics all over the world have been researching IT strategyies. The key concept underlying most of this research is that IT must be aligned to business, and many academics developed nice IT strategy methodologies that involved mapping business goals to technology needs.

india Updated: Apr 18, 2006 14:34 IST

Since the early 70’s, academics all over the world have been researching IT strategyies. The key concept underlying most of this research is that IT must be aligned to business, and many academics developed nice IT strategy methodologies that involved mapping business goals to technology needs.

Most large organisations followed suit, and even today, Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) will tell you about the various IT policies that they adopted in their organisations and how they are linked to business objectives. It all sounds good.

But times have changed, and paradoxical though it may seem, IT strategies may be bad for business. For one thing, business cycles are much shorter than they used to be. For example, who would have predicted the explosive growth in e-business?

Quite simply, businesses no longer plan out what they are going to do in 10 or five years. So why should one even consider having a long-term strategy for IT? Another thing is that business needs to evolve. IT strategies, however, are all about establishing what the business needs are and then creating technology solutions to support those.

But how can one define a strategy when business requirements are forever changing? So, while IT strategies may have been useful in the 70’s, they may not be so relevant today. Which brings me onto those organisations that do have an IT strategy.

How many times do you think end-users have heard this response from their IT folk, “Sorry, the system can’t do that?” An organisation may find itself strait-jacketed with a particular solution, vendor or technology platform that is unable to cope with changing business necessities.

So why do some organisations still hang on to the notion of an IT strategy? For many CIOs and CTOs, it’s a legacy. This doesn’t mean that organisations should stop making strategic IT decisions, but rather recognise that the notion of an all-encompassing grand master-plan known as the IT strategy may no longer be so appropriate in a modern business setting.


Therefore, unless your CIO or CTO is a Nostradamus, who can predict the future, perhaps you should question if your organisation’s IT strategy is actually helping or hindering business.

(The writer is Director Universitas 21 Global)

First Published: Apr 18, 2006 14:34 IST