Convergence, Yes; Alignment, No

Beginning with the work leading to his first book, The Alignment Effect, Faisal Hoque has been on a seven-year-long “research journey” into the subject of alignment. He used his perch as the founder, chairman and CEO of BTM Corp. to organize the Business Technology Management Institute, a research organization made up of academics, CIOs and alignment experts. Together with members of the BTM Institute, he has come up with an alignment framework and several other books, including Sustained Innovation: Converging Business and Technology to Achieve Enduring Performance, co-authored with former CIO Insight contributing editor Terry Kirkpatrick and published in 2007.

Hoque’s research on alignment has taken a surprising turn: alignment, which is usually defined as bringing IT into accord with a company’s strategy, is insufficient. Rather than a goal, alignment is a stage on a journey to a more complete merging of IT and business that he calls convergence. Companies which achieve convergence, according to a recent study from the BTM Institute, achieve superior growth and earnings compared to other companies. CIO Insight Executive Editor Allan Alter asked him to explain what “convergence” means, and what else he has learned in his years as a researcher on alignment.

CIO Insight: Are you breaking the concept of alignment into different categories?
Instead, I am breaking alignment into stages of maturity. Alignment is the lowest and most passive stage; at the alignment stage, IT plays a support role; IT is always trying to catch up with what the business wants to do. Synchronization is the next stage. IT plays more of an active role by influencing how the business should operate: how the company goes to market, manages its supply chain or improves efficiency, or introduces a new product. The highest stage of maturity is convergence. Here IT and business are the same; there’s no distinction between the two.

The business model is so intertwined with IT that there’s no separate orientation. IT has become part and parcel of management’s vocabulary. Companies that are very much in tune with the global economy, and are playing a significant leading role in terms of new business models and innovation, are very much converged when it comes to business and technology. It’s obvious that Wal-Mart and FedEx are at the leading edge of the curve. Marriott, Starwood and United Parcel Service have also reached convergence. Are they all using the BTM framework? No. But they are using something of that nature. The fundamental point is they take a very holistic viewpoint towards technology.

CIO Insight Staff
CIO Insight Staff
CIO Insight offers thought leadership and best practices in the IT security and management industry while providing expert recommendations on software solutions for IT leaders. It is the trusted resource for security professionals who need network monitoring technology and solutions to maintain regulatory compliance for their teams and organizations.

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