CIO’s need to know organizational assumptions about IT

Though Information Technology (IT) is seen as a core enabler of business continuity and competence, it is not always viewed so. I was impressed by a research paper in MIS quarterly by Michelle L. Kaarst Brown. Her research study (Kaarst-Brown M.L ) done in the referenced paper finds that the state of assumptions about IT could be arrived (in any organization) at as in terms of control over IT, central aspect of IT as to business strategy, value tag on IT knowledge and skills as seen by business people, factors and results of IT justification process and who ultimately gains or loses from the IT deployment (Kaarst-Brown M.L.). It is essential for any CIO to understand these assumptions and ‘IT clusters’ that it created within the organization so that he could influence strategic management of IT aligned with business strategy. The review presented here is just a high level synopsis of the paper to introduce the paper to larger audience.

One of the major reasons that acts as an obstacle to effective relationship between IT and business is that when business executive think that IT is just a supporting factor and business comes in “status” above IT. Due to this CIOs are not given proper representation in strategic meetings and thus are not able to do full justice to their core duty – aligning IT strategy with business strategy and in that process lead to strategic management of information resources. 

The assumptions as listed above are to be thought and reflected deeply to arrive at various stages/levels of situation that actually persist in an organization. For example, when we reflect on central aspect of IT as to business strategy, we may arrive at the conclusion that IT actually is a core aspect of corporate strategy. In organizations that hold this view, the CIO is well accepted among the business executives and IT has a significant control and influence over the business. In other cases such as when IT is constantly scrutinized for its justification (as when IT is considered as a necessary evil), the CIO’s status is much lowered to someone who has to defend the usage of a particular technology and is not well accepted into the business. 

The core of this review is that CIOs in any time in past future has to understand the implications of these assumptions that lay down the company culture and should take appropriate actions to influence the wave towards acceptance of IT as partner of business. 

Reference: 

Kaarst-Brown M.L. (2005). Understanding an organization’s view of the CIO: The role of assumptions about IT. MIS Quarterly Executive Vol. 4 No. 2 / June 2005

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