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Well-known expert on why IT projects fail, CEO of Asuret, a Brookline, MA consultancy that uses specialized tools to measure and detect potential vulnerabilities in projects, programs, and initiatives. Also a popular and prolific blogger, writing the IT Project Failures blog for ZDNet.

One response to “Dilbert on IT / business alignment”

  1. Chris Boorman

    IT has striven for years to be in alignment with “the business”. It’s weird that here we are many years later still talking the “alignment” issue. Perhaps we need to take a step back and think how we have got to this sorry state of affairs?

    For too long now we have lived in an application-centric world. We have built application after application after application to try and automate business process. The trouble is that these applications have all been developed at different times and for different users. Suddenly IT finds themselves having to maintain an arsenal of complex applications and a spaghetti-mess of integrations between these applications in order to try and ensure the business always sees a consistent view of the data that the business needs. Which customer record should the business user trust? The one in the Siebel system built 10 years ago, or the support system hand-coded 20 years ago, or the financial application implemented last year, or the system rolled out this year, or any of dozens of applications that have been built of acquired over the years!

    Unfortunately, the result is this perceived “lack of alignment”. It’s not for want of trying! However, despite all this hard work, the sad truth is that the business still does not have timely, relevant or trustworthy data! It is this need for timely, relevant and trustworthy data that lies at the root of the business-IT alignment question. We should ask ourselves why … in my opinion it is because of two factors:
    1. We have focused on the application, and not the data.
    2. The business user is not empowered to manage their own data

    The business user has only ever been able to see the data through the eyes of complex applications that were designed many years ago – unfortunately the business moves more quickly than IT can recode! Today we hear about how the business wants to “flee to the clouds”. Cloud computing will not remove this problem – indeed cloud computing will exacerbate this in large enterprises due to the need to integrate with core applications within the enterprise. The business user needs to be empowered to define the data according to their business needs, and to be able to manage their data on an ongoing basis to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of the business – and they need to be able to do this across all applications.

    This sounds like a tall order, but it’s possible. Firstly they need the correct tooling to allow them to participate in the design and definition of their data requirements efficiently. All too often the needs of the business result in complex iterative to’ing and fro’ing between business and IT. The business users needs to be empowered to TAKE OWNERSHIP of their data – in collaboration with IT. This then removes the impact of this iterative process between business & IT. Secondly the business user needs simple to use internet browsers (that they are familiar with) to profile and correct issues with their data. Again, this needs to be done in collaboration with IT through the use of lossless translation between business need and IT jargon. Thirdly, the definition of data and the rules defined by the business user need to be automatically propagated across all business applications – whether in traditional on-premise systems, or in the internet cloud.

    This is possible today with the new generation of data integration platforms available from companies like Informatica. Informatica is focused on helping the business and IT to collaborate together to ensure the delivery of timely, relevant and trustworthy data – whether in traditional on-premise systems or in the internet cloud.