IT2B – Alignment or Convergence?

Went to the CFO Technology conference a couple of weeks ago in San Francisco where one of the many interesting topics was on IT to Business Convergence.

The presenters at the kick off work shop (Michael Fillious and Fasail Hoque from the BTM Corporation), did a fine job of outlining the case for Convergence, stating, “Convergence occurs when business and technology activities are intertwined and the leadership teams operate almost interchangeably.” This should be an objective of virtually all organizations. In fact, it seems to me that convergence is the next logical step in the process; however, I don’t believe we can write off alignment.

It’s important to understand the difference between alignment and convergence:

Convergence can be defined as a process of coming together or the state of having come together toward a common point.

Alignment can be defined as a state of agreement or cooperation among persons, groups, nations, etc., with a common cause or viewpoint.

Source: Dictionary.com

Before one can come together and converge, there must be an agreement between the groups on the direction the organization is taking. Alignment must take place before Convergence.

The concern I have in pushing Convergence over Alignment is that although Convergence follows Alignment in the logical process of transforming an IT organization from a basic cost center to a strategic partner, many organizations will want to skip critical steps, one of those being Alignment. Or, they may feel they are already at that stage – after all, we’ve been talking alignment for over 5 years. However, based on what I have seen, there is still a lot of work to be done just to get organizations to the Alignment stage in the process. Not only is it a lot of work, but it is a lot of hard work. You can’t discount the work that is required to get you to your ultimate destination. Yes, you have to have a vision, you have to have a plan, but you also have to be willing to do the work to get you there.

In our society of instant gratification and desire for immediate results, many organizations will not have the intestinal fortitude to follow the necessary steps to improve. Will leaders be able to “stay the course” in their improvement activities? The concern is unless organizations have a strong strategic partner, or in LEAN terms, a sensei, most will be unsuccessful.

I want to give kudos to Fasail and Michael for pushing the next step in the process – a new vision in the journey of improvement. We definitely need the vision. However, although Convergence may be the ultimate goal (for now), let’s focus on getting some basic Alignment between IT and Business Processes first.

Let me know your thoughts!

Talk to you soon!

Glenn

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