Many companies are at the height of the IT strategic-planning season. For some, this is an annual ritual tied to the budgeting process. For others, this is part of a long-range planning process, with an annual review to check on progress. Still other CIOs are approaching the development of an IT strategy as an integral part of an ever-evolving business strategy, with regular adjustments as the business units flex and respond to market changes. Whatever your perspective, it’s apparent that in the past executives outside of IT have given scant attention to the machinations of the IT strategy — but this is surely changing.

The operational performance of any business unit is now so heavily dependent upon the effective and efficient deployment of appropriate technology that planning a business strategy without also planning technology strategy is like planning to win Formula One without any telemetry. You can’t even get to the starting grid.

While today’s tech-savvy executives understand the importance of technology in their businesses, the perception persists that in many organizations IT is relegated to “keeping the lights on” — acting as the corporate janitor instead of the enabler of a coveted pole position. This perceived disconnect between IT and “the business” has plagued IT leaders for more than 30 years. But the landscape is changing. At the end of 2009, Maryfran Johnson highlighted in her blog post the emergence of CIOs focused on customer impact and business strategy.

Some of my upcoming research will shine a light on business strategy maturity and examine how IT strategy planning has evolved to become integrated into business strategy. I’d like to go beyond “alignment” — after all, in 30 years there has been plenty written on achieving that elusive goal of CIOs.

With your help, I plan to write a number of posts on developing an effective business technology strategy. For now, I’m starting off by examining employee awareness, inside and outside of IT, of both business strategy and technology strategy. And this is where I’d really like your help.

How You Can Help

You can help in a number of ways:

  1. By sending a link to this post or the associated survey to your connections in other organizations who you feel may be interested in the results (they can receive a summary of the results by participating).
  2. By taking the survey yourself, if you are in a medium/large organization (it takes around 10 minutes). (NOTE: Survey is closed)
  3. If you are an IT executive and have developed a fresh approach to strategy development that works for your organization, I’d love to explore that with you — even if we can’t publish any details.
  4. If you have an opinion on why IT-business alignment is irrelevant (or otherwise) or on how CIOs need to be leading their organizations differently now, please post your thoughts in the comments section below.

After we analyze the survey results, I’ll be feeding back the results in a number of forums, including this blog, and the survey data will feed into upcoming research.

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