This Chapter considers how to manage IT transition as we move further into the digital enterprise. It examines the requirements and characteristics of a digital enterprise IT operating model. It also explores how the lens of chaos theory and capabilities, such as cloud computing, can inform and accelerate IT transformation approaches.
Business-IT alignment has been an on-going challenge since the introduction of data processing, always showing up at or near the top of biggest issues lists in annual computer magazine surveys. Having an IT organization that translates business requirements into IT specifications and solutions is, at best, a flawed approach. There is always an aspect of the IT organization that adds cost but not value. This is inherent in the role of intermediaries. If the business needs a translator, something will always get lost in translation.
There is an alternative in the era of Web 2.0—give people across the organization the right tools, provide a safe, secure and learning-oriented infrastructure and allow them to explore, play and discover. People will discover what they want and how best to satisfy their needs.
But this demands a new type of organizational clarity that distinguishes focused IT roles and accountabilities from those that are deeply embedded in the business organization.
I first read Alvin Toffler’s remarkable book, The Third Wave in 1980. Toffler pointed out that the separation between production and consumption is not the natural order of things. It occurred to me at that time that the need for an IT organization represented an unnatural separation of IT consumption from production. I came to realize that the whole notion of the IT organization, especially as it was typically configured in the 1980s, was essentially a temporary phenomenon.