Understanding the strategic IS alignment process: An exploratory study
Hilgers, LeAnn A.
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This piece closely examines the impact on business resulting from rapid continuous business process changes. Even though IT has progressed to hold a more strategic organizational role, little is known about the strategic potential of IT or the appropriate process for aligning business and IT strategies. Internal and environmental forces necessitating strategic IS alignment require us to look beyond traditional, intellectual, planning based views of alignment toward other levels of analysis and social theoretical viewpoints. In order to more fully understand the strategic IS alignment process, this work builds upon past alignment theory and incorporates critical social elements from change management, leadership and IT adoption/diffusion literatures. The goal of this exploratory study is the development of a Strategic Information Systems Alignment process guide. This process guide framework is defined through the use of a historical-comparative multiple case-study and encompasses six stages of IS alignment: Awareness, Generation, Motivation, Unification, Empowerment and Fusion. The data appeared to support the structure of the Strategic IS Alignment Process Guide. This process guide was designed to assess the crucial elements and map the phase sequences of the alignment process. Organizations also appeared to be positionable within the framework and maintained the necessity of each phase – even if phases were experienced in differing orders or recursively. From the data it appeared participants demonstrating higher overall states of alignment also appeared to demonstrate more advanced process levels (Unification, Empowerment and Fusion). As the advanced process levels are more complex and more socially focused, these findings suggest these social elements are of particular importance to stronger overall states strategic IT alignment. This research has helped to generate a greater understanding of strategic IS alignment by uniquely integrating shared vision, change management and IT into strategic alignment. Much future research is needed to flesh out these anomalies by gathering of additional data towards the design of a strategic alignment process guide and so the practical application of a Strategic IS Alignment process guide can be manifested to increase IT and organizational success.