IT misalignment to business objectives – is it a generation thing?

Business-Value
IT alignment to business strategy is something that is always on the minds of business managers and business leaders today.

The basic question is… “why are we spending more money on IT when it’s not even part of our business strategy?”

Although this question may be somewhat bizarre to an IT professional, IT professionals still battle to explain why IT departments are important to business strategy and should not be considered as mere cost centres.

Having worked as an account manager for a long time selling high end technologies, I have been dragged to sales training after sales training to learn how to explain the business value of technology to customers.
In addition to all the sales training, I have also been dragged to customer meeting after customer meeting in which the IT manager is lamenting that he wants to buy our technology but he is battling to justify the expenditure to his/her management.

As a result, I am compelled to ask the following question…
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Is the misalignment of IT to business strategy today really about return on investment calculations and other calculations, or about the current generation of managers tasked to make business decisions?
Here is why I ask this question…

When was the last time you went to a management meeting and on the agenda was this: “Correct the misalignment of accounting to business strategy?”. I am willing to bet, if ever you’ve been to such a meeting, it was a long time ago. I am not saying it doesn’t happen, what I am saying is that I am willing to bet it doesn’t happen often.

Accounting has been around for a long time, mistakes have been made and there has been continuous improvement over 100’s of years and integration into management training has helped to mature the discipline.

IT on the other hand has recently invaded management meetings compared to other management disciplines. And most managers are all too quick to throw their hands in the air and happily proclaim “Hey, I don’t have a clue about IT” as if there is some reward for being clueless about IT.

I just wonder if in the future we will still be talking about “aligning IT strategy to business strategy” and still trying to justify the “business value of IT” to new managers that have grown up on Facebook, Twitter and Google Apps.

Will these new managers get it, that without IT there is no payment processing, no communication, no marketing, no job scheduling, no forecast management; in short…no business. That the first measure of the business value of IT is that if you don’t have IT, your business does not exist, therefore it is not a case of aligning IT to business strategy but a case of IT being part of the strategy.