Strategic fit for strategic alignment

16 Nov

The success of Strategic Alignment can be judged on the application of Information Technology in an appropriate and timely way in harmony with business, strategies and needs. Henderson and Venkatraman point out the evolving nature of I.T. can make it difficult to maintain strategic alignment ‘no single IT application [..] could deliver a sustained competitive advantage. Rather, this advantage is obtained through the capability of an organization to exploit IT functionality on a continuous basis’.  The “strategic fit” has been discussed at length by ac04 and pm1083, how I.T. can make a difference, functional integration, cross domain alignments are all essential elements.

But is there a framework that can help with this strategic fit?

Osterwalder puts forward the idea of introducing his business model canvas as a means of exploiting synergies and avoiding conflicts. A business model could help illuminate the I.T. – business relationship and consequently create better alignment.

I believe the above diagram asks all the questions a C.I.O must be answering when implementing an I.T. System such “What workflows does my system require and do we have the resources to provide it”, “What is the value to be gained from implementing such a system”. It combines Osterwalders business canvas with Jay Galbraiths Star model to show aspects of organisational design with the Business Canvas acting as a conduit between the different points in the star

Osterwalder suggests for a firm to be successful all five points on the star must be aligned. For I.T. alignment I believe there are three main headings to explain alignment: People, Process and Technology.

The people and process fall into the categories outlined above but what about technology? In the case of alignment I believe it is strategy after all surely the goal with technology is to maximise its potential and extract maximum value from it. I think the above diagram is also a neat summation of the challenges of achieving strategic alignment, by bringing into sharp focus the different obstacles that must be overcome to achieve true alignment.

Osterwalder also makes the point that the IT sector is a constantly evolving one and thus to keep it aligned with organizational goals so must the business model canvas. Previously I ve discussed how Kaplans balanced scorecard approach can be used as a tool to gauge the success of IT alignment within a firm which can be viewed here, in a similar vein this Osterwalder model is an implementation tool designed for overcoming the challenges of the “strategic fit” IT-business alignment.

Comments, suggestions and queries welcome.



5 Responses to “Strategic fit for strategic alignment”

  1. 04ac November 18, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    Interesting blog strategic blogger, your idea of applying Osterwalder’s Business Model to help improve strategic alignment is a good idea and I can see how it would have a good effect on the overall strategic fit.

  2. agblogail November 20, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    Interesting work thestrategicblogger, I feel you are very educated on the area of strategic alignment from reading your blogs. Just a question, how would you feel that firms could maintain strategic alignment if they were to outsource certain aspects of their business? Does outsourcing have negative implications for strategic alignment?

  3. gashe2k12 November 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

    nice post I really liked your adaptation of Osterwalders work and provides a good framework for how to align business with the I.T. function of the firm.


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