In one of my first meetings as a solution architect, I one day heard an executive saying that our technology designs should be strategically aligned. As an ex-(seasoned)developer, exec speak barely resonated with me, but I soon learned that strategic alignment would be the core of being an enterprise architect, or any technology leader for that matter.
What is strategic alignment?
Strategic alignment in the technology world means understanding the strategic intent of an organization and selecting, designing, and implementing appropriate technology solutions that will achieve those strategic goals and objectives.
In most businesses, IT is considered a liability. On that basis, it does not make business sense to procure and implement costly technology solutions that do not assist an organisation in achieving their strategic goals. Most organisations, particularly bigger corporates are driven by their strategic objectives. The organisation is staffed and funded to ensure growth, profitability and innovation. Technology enables these goals. Therefore, it is critically important for technology strategies to align to business strategy.
Strategy is what binds business and technology
If we were to unpack strategy lightly, it speaks to what the business would like to do, or be, in a specified period of time. It also speaks to how they plan to achieve those goals, and how much it would cost to get to the finish line and remain profitable.
Keeping those factors in mind, technology strategies are created. The challenge that arises, particularly for the tech savvy geeks, like me, is the plethora of options available, all promising to deliver similar results.
“Do we go cloud? AWS? Google? Azure? All 3 because then were have a super playground!”
“Let’s build an app because its cool and everyone needs one!”
“Let’s try to create our own machine learning capabilities that will outshine all of the tried and tested options available from the tech giants of the world simply because we think we can!” The point is that there is a fine line between implementing cool tech savvy solutions, and implementing cool, tech savvy solutions that are required, and actually drive the business forward, within budget and timelines allocated. This requires skill, experience, technical maturity and insight. And if every technology leader is able to effectively get that right, technology becomes more of an asset than a liability.