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Abstract

This paper provides insight into identifying areas that help or hinder business-IT alignment. Alignment focuses on the activities that management performs to achieve cohesive goals across the organization. The aim of this paper is to determine the most important enablers and inhibitors to alignment. The paper presents and analyzes the results of a multi-year study of strategic alignment. Data were obtained from business and information technology executives of over 800 firms representing 15 industries who attended classes addressing alignment at IBM's Advanced Business Institute. The executives were asked to describe those activities that assist in achieving alignment and those which seem to hinder it. These enablers and inhibitors to alignment were then analyzed with respect to industry, to time, and executive position. The results indicate that certain activities can assist in the achievement of this state of alignment while others are clearly barriers. Achieving alignment is evolutionary and dynamic. It requires strong support from senior management, good working relationships, strong leadership, appropriate prioritization, trust, and effective communication, as well as a thorough understanding of the business environment. Achieving alignment demands focusing on maximizing the enablers and minimizing the inhibitors. The data show these factors to be constant over time and to be nearly identical for business executives and for IT executives. Furthermore, the data validate published anecdotal descriptions of enablers and inhibitors.

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