Wednesday Jan 16, 2008

Business/IT Alignment Methodology

Business-IT Alignment Approch IT Value for your Business Needs

Here I propose a deployment of the overall approach. I analyze the business model, then define an IT model that fits the business needs and in the end propose some IT solutions based on hardware, software and  value added services.
Business and IT Alignment is not a one time activity: it is actually a closed loop cycle where we re-evaluate IT needs according to the business needs on a regular basis.
Business changes quickly, so we need to be able to react and adapt the IT infrastructure to those changes. This approach gives us the needed reactivity to do that. So this is pretty common sense ! But this has to be done in a conscious and organized manner. So, in order to help our customers evolving in terms of IT maturity and delivering business value, we now tend to use at Sun the Business/IT Alignment Approach.
It consists first in identifying the business drivers that apply to a particular customer. These business drivers can be related to some strategic goals, to tactical objectives, to Corporate process improvements, to specific constraints of a particular industry...
It is central for an IT provider to understand up front these business drivers. There is no way we can design and deploy effective IT solutions without going through that step first. This is particularly true for storage where a lack of understanding of those drivers often leads to a very monolithic and difficult to manage storage in the best case or to silos of non interoperable storage in the worst case.
Once business drivers are identified, we need to understand key success factors and key performance indicators that will be used in order to drive and monitor progress. When I say "performance", I actually mean technological but also financial, environment and security. As an example, we may want to achieve a decrease of 30% on floor space. We may also want to achieve a higher availability on some critical data... To say it simply, we have to understand what needs to be achieved in terms of IT objectives, keeping in mind the business drivers that have been identified.
Business/IT Approach is an iterative loop and consist in aligning business drivers part of the business model with the success factors part of the IT model. The key performance indicators measure the performance of the IT solution according business, financial and technological criterias.
Each time a business model changes, IT model changes and in the end  IT solution also.

Example in Telco industry
  • Key Business Driver : Negotiate convergence fixe phone, mobile phone, Internet and TV
  • Key Success Factor : Deliver customer services independent of the support
  • Key Performance Indicators : Virtualized applications ratio, SwaP ratio, Use rate of equipment environment, Return On Investment, Number of virtual machines, Availability ratio...
  • IT Value Proposition: Infrastructure virtualization - Improvement of utilization ratio and infrastructure flexibility
           
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Business stakes are changing, the IT infrastructure must be increasingly reactive to significantly reduce Time To Market. Today, we have the technology and methodology addressing these new business challenges.

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