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Abstract

A strong business-IT relationship is critical for an organization’s effective use of IT. This relationship is affected by many factors, such as the sub-function of IT involved, the business unit involved, the management levels involved, changing expectations, and general perceptions of IT. Research suggests that little is known about what contributes to a strong relationship between IT and business, nor even about how to characterize a relationship of this complexity. To explore business-IT relations and better understand how to assess their quality, what might be done to improve them, and the factors that are critical to a successful relationship, the authors convened a focus group of senior IT managers from a variety of industries. In preparation for this day-long session, we asked all participants to prepare a presentation addressing a number of questions about the business-IT relationship in their organizations. This paper presents the results of this discussion, combining our findings with those of other researchers. It first looks at the nature of the business-IT relationship and how an effective relationship could be characterized. Then, it examines each of the four foundational elements of a strong, positive relationship in turn, making suggestions for how IT managers could strengthen them.

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