That your technology strategy should be driven by business is a truism. We all know this –  architecture, strategy and IT overall should be driven by business needs, strategies and outcomes.

But we struggle with how to put this awareness into implementation – and do it in a way that makes sense to our business stakeholders.  IT R&D efforts come up with a list of ‘hot technologies’ which seem to have no connection to what a firm cares about or its operating model.  We still describe our systems in primarily technical terms: a BI app, an SOA app, or a event-driven app.  The connection between our technology plans and what the CEO cares about isn’t there.  If business and technology were slow-changing entities, this wouldn’t be a problem.  But they aren’t – and this lack of connection means IT and business are out of sync, and potentially business isn’t able to take advantage of technology enabled opportunities.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing the concepts and messages we’ll be sharing with our clients at the Forrester Enterprise Architecture Forums in San Diego on Feb. 11-12 and in London on March 2-3.   Making the connection to help our clients is a critical element of this review.  Every track session will be starting with a single-slide describing the key shift the session is about, the opportunity this shift brings, and what architects must do to help their firms ‘master the shift’ and ‘realize the opportunity’.

One of the speeches I am excited about is Randy Heffner’s keynote “Crafting Your Technology Strategy For Business Impact”.  Much of our forward-looking architecture and strategy research is anchored around the idea of business capabilities – an organization’s capacity to successfully perform unique business activities.  Business capabilities are well-established as a component of Business Architecture.  Randy is building on this – answering the question “if business capabilities are our basis for analysis and planning – how do we close the gap with implementation?”  His keynote will describe Business Capability Architecture as the method to close this gap – both from a functional and a technology perspective.  He’ll  suggest the architecture principles which underlie your business capability architecture – and then how these views provide the missing link between what your business cares about and a technology strategy crafted for business impact.

If you are attending Forrester’s Enterprise Architecture Forum 2010, you’ll be able to hear and discuss this with Randy in more depth.  Can’t make it to EA Forum?  This research will be the subject of a series of reports by Randy in 2010.

What’s your view of the gap between business outcomes and technology strategy?  Have you used business capabilities as the link between business and technology?