Is Business (Not IT) to Blame for Alignment Breakdown?


CIO coach and former CIO and CFO Susan Cramm has an eye-opening take on why IT and the business aren't truly aligned.

"IT has done pretty much everything they know how to do," Cramm writes. "Unless business leaders commit to forging a better partnership with IT, whatever IT is today, it will still be tomorrow."

We've written time and time again about alignment being the top concern for CIOs today.

There are plenty of obvious reasons why. For one, aligning strategies is absolutely necessary to drive successful performance. But above that, alignment is still a big priority because, overall, it's not getting done.

Cramm rightly asserts that CIOs need to spend a considerable amount of time outside their IT shops. As they're being charged with "doing more with less" -- cutting costs while boosting productivity -- their focus needs to be in collaborating with executives and business partners to identify needs and opportunities. In short, they need to get out of their offices and find out where IT can help.

It's a tough task. In these trying times, it's common for leaders to retrench into what they know and, in IT's case, focus on keeping the lights on. But as so many prominent IT leaders have told us, that's exactly what they can't do right now. (Just ask Kimberly-Clark's Ramon Baez, Microsoft's Tony Scott, Chubb's Jim Knight or BB&T's Paul Johnson.)

Granted, they're not pointing the finger at the business. But it's easy for many CIOs to do so. In an age where few companies have a solid cadre of IT-savvy business execs, CIOs have an even harder job ahead.

Cramm developed a survey to take the temperature of how business and IT interact. It's worth checking out.

On top of that, stay tuned to CIOInsight.com for more this issue, including an upcoming package on why IT-business alignment has largely faltered.