This article written in 2007, interestingly starts by focusing on problems Schwab is having spending more than their competitors on IT with poorer results. Article uses Schwab as an example of this “Alignment Trap”. It is aligned with business priorities, while overall IT system complexity is increasing with layers built upon layers and efficiency is decreasing. The article goes on to state that companies would be better off focusing on just increasing IT efficiency rather than alignment with business processes. This would involve simplifying things and getting all parts of the company running on one system or platform. Once efficiency has improved, and there is one simplified system, then one can focus on alignment.
IT and the Board of Directors (2005)
This article discusses the need for varying levels of IT oversight by a company’s board depending on the importance of IT to the functioning and operating of the company. The article lays out a framework to understanding the importance of IT to a company, and to describe the corresponding oversight measures the corporate board should take. The article attempts to do so as, because “As technology’s costs, complexity, and consequences grow, directors need a framework to develop IT policies that fit the companies they oversee.” The authors view companies as operating in four distinct modes relative to IT; Support Mode, Factory Mode, Turnaround Mode, and Strategic Mode. These modes are graphed on an X axis of increasing need for new information technology, and a Y axis of increasing need for reliable information technology. Support mode is the lowest in both need for new technology and reliability. Companies in support mode can tolerate service interruptions, and revert to manual operations. Interestingly, it characterized Zara, the Spanish clothier as operating from Support Mode. Factory mode is low on need for new IT, but high on need for reliability.