Communications of the Association for Information Systems


There is a growing recognition among alignment researchers and IT professionals that "one size does not fit all." In this article, we provide an important extension of alignment research that shows three profiles linking IT to different business objectives. We address the need to identify the appropriate types of IT alignment by using a multi-method study including interviews and cases. Two dimensions define the three alignment profiles: internal IT-business integration and external market engagement. The technical resource profile calls for low levels of IT-business integration and IT-market engagement. The business enabler profile deploys IT in some business processes and begins engaging IT with customers and suppliers. The strategic weapon profile uses IT to mobilize and extend the enterprise, which requires extensive IT deployment, both internally and externally. Each profile differs in strategies, criteria, capabilities, and mental models. Importantly, IT decision-makers should not adopt stage-model thinking which assumes that technical resource profiles naturally progress up the chain. Rather, successful use of IT requires specifying the requisite alignment profile as an initial design decision so that appropriate levels of resource allocation and management involvement occur.