The Strategic Alignment of Business and IT has been the "grail quest" of the Information Technology world (and every CIO) in the 20th century. One of the paths the IT visionary folks took on that quest was the path of EA, but unfortunately the current EA practitioners lost the vision and the search for "alignment" got side tracked.
Fast forward to 21st century and we have a situation where the Business Users are in the 21st century, the Enterprise IT Department is in the 20th century and IT – Business Alignment (EA) is in the 19th century.
Just like the "Arab Spring" democratization movement happening in the Middle East, there is a silent revolution or "Democratization of Technology" that is happening in the Technology world. Now business has the capability to go and acquire "IT Services" directly bypassing the traditional IT department in what I call "Technology by the Business for the Business"… now obviously this is going to bring about a new set of problems for the enterprise, and once again the visionaries in the IT/EA field are calling "time out" but as usual nobody is listening and the march towards the democratization of technology continues.
A few forward thinking EA practitioners are prophesying the demise of enterprise IT and declaring that the role of the new CIO will be "Chief Governance Officer." The role new of IT in the Enterprise will be that of managing the "Governance, Risk and Compliance" from the use of Technology.
Organizations like ISACA are preparing for this new 21st reality of "Ubiquitous Computing" and I see COBIT 5 emerging as the "new EA" framework. If you examine the COBIT 5 Principles and Enablers, it is exactly what the Old EA has been wishing for...so the quest for alignment will continue but on a new path!!
COBIT 5 is based on five key principles for governance and management of Enterprise IT:
- Principle 1: Meeting Stakeholder Needs
- Principle 2: Covering the Enterprise End-to-End
- Principle 3: Applying a Single, Integrated Framework
- Principle 4: Enabling a Holistic Approach
- Principle 5: Separating Governance From Management
The COBIT 5 framework describes seven categories of enablers:
- Principles, policies and frameworks are the vehicle to translate the desired behavior into practical guidance for day-to-day management.
- Processes describe an organized set of practices and activities to achieve certain objectives and produce a set of outputs in support of achieving overall IT-related goals.
- Organizational structures are the key decision-making entities in an enterprise.
- Culture, ethics and behavior of individuals and of the enterprise are very often underestimated as a success factor in governance and management activities.
- Information is required for keeping the organization running and well governed, but at the operational level, information is very often the key product of the enterprise itself.
- Services, infrastructure and applications include the infrastructure, technology and applications that provide the enterprise with information technology processing and services.
- People, skills and competencies are required for successful completion of all activities, and for making correct decisions and taking corrective actions.
Traditional IT (and along with it the traditional EA) is in its death bed. No, it is not time to write an obituary yet…but I feel the illness is terminal, and demise is certain, and it is time for the candle light vigil, and I hope that from out of the old the new will emerge.