Verizon and Rivio Use the Web to Offer Big Benefits for Small Businesses. Minicase 1
Q1. In what ways might IT strategy and alignment differ for small businesses as opposed to that of larger organizations?
A1. One of the most common difficulties companies face in strategic planning is turning their vision into a reality. To transform your organization into the one you envision takes more than great strategy and implementation, you also need to make the strategy an integral part of the very fiber of your organization. When we speak of this idea, we usually use the phrase "strategic alignment". Aligning everyone in your organization with your strategy is one of the most important things you can do beyond formulating and implementing great strategies. Alignment will make it much easier for your management team to push the organization in the direction you intend. Without good alignment with the strategy, every bit of forward motion will be a struggle.
As an example, consider a retail computer store. If you are running such a store, you probably want employees who appeal to specialty customers. Helpful, cheerful and courteous employees will encourage these customers to return, even if the prices are a little higher than other stores nearby. Rude, sullen employees who don't know how to help customers will drive customers away. If you have a good staff in a store, you won't have to work as hard to get customers to return. If your staff is really excellent, you may even get some word of mouth advertising. While this may cost a little more in terms of the compensation you offer employees, you will get a payoff in the form of a loyal specialty customer base. Alignment between business strategy and IT strategy has been given significant attention in recent years and has been ranked among the top issues facing IT executives. Most authors suggest that IT alignment has advantages for firms. However, in practice, many firms struggle to achieve alignment. Although IT has been used significantly in many small firms, there are few reported studies of IT alignment in small firms.
Many studies have indicated that the conditions are not ripe for IT to be used strategically in small firms. Reasons could be: * Limited resources in small firms.
* Also, small firms do not perform adequate planning of the use and operation of IT. Consequently this results in * Lack of appropriate policies towards IT assessment and adoption. Furthermore, * The computing environment in very small firms (with 50 or less employees)is fundamentally different from medium-sized firms, where there is often a formal MIS department and a community of end users.
The importance of IT is hard to overstate. Getting IT ready for the future by successfully planning for or creating that future is one of the most challenging tasks facing management, including IS management. To have a longer lasting competitive advantage, it is important to develop an IT strategy that includes a wide spectrum of techniques. Those techniques can enable a company to compete (or differentiate) on price, time (quick response), service, innovation, quality, or customer service. If we speak about IT strategy, it is important to mention that it is connected with company goals and sometimes is not sufficient to develop a long-term IT strategy and not re-examine the strategy on a regular basis. A good IT planning process can help ensure that IT aligns, and stays aligned, with an organization. But for large companies-
* It is more common to do IT planning because they operate on higher level than small companies and have much more to think about. * Large companies are oriented on long term and they are more stable than small companies that are too influenced by...
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