Posted by Mike Rollings
I recently had a discussion about Business/IT Synchronization and the conversation started out the same way as others regarding this Burton Group topic. "I am interested in discussing Business/IT Synchronization, or at least that's what you guys call it, synchronization is really the same thing as alignment, right?"
Synchronization is not alignment. The need for alignment flows from the idea that you have two diverging paths that need to be converged. Synchronization is the creation of a common path.
Many IT organizations have been pursuing incremental improvement and planning with simplification of existing elements as our primary goal. One problem with this approach is that the number of elements (e.g. application, infrastructures, technologies) increases at a faster rate than our ability to simplify. Hence, complexity grows as does the list of constraints that hobble complexity reduction. Another problem is that the connection between business outcomes and the entirety of the IT portfolio becomes obscured. The business relevance of some IT projects and services is mystical.
Synchronization means an end to the business and IT divide by working together and looking for integrated movement and forward momentum. When synchronization exists, there is a clear connection between business outcomes, architecture, projects, infrastructure and the services IT provides. The language used by the business is the language of IT. Technology is not the center of our universe. Instead, our focus is on driving business value.
An IT organization that pursues synchronization uses both simplification and business optimization to conduct planning. Business-driven goals such as the sharing and reuse of business processes, or to drive information stewardship, require the business to take the lead and for IT to partner in the collaboration to make it happen. Business optimization is not led by IT, but IT plays a key role in its realization. Business optimization is fundamental to transformation -- No More IT Transformation! (Right advice for the wrong reasons).
So don't let the voice in your head explain away the important distinction between synchronization and alignment. Instead, challenge yourself to look at how you can reconnect and fully integrate your current IT strategy process into the creation and active management of business outcomes. As I mentioned in my first blog post launching Burton Group's enterprise architecture coverage, the idea is simple - the value of EA, like the value of technology, is associated with the value delivered to the business.