The phrase Business/IT Alignment has become popular recently. It is usually about the IT department becoming aligned or integrated with what the business wants. This has always slightly confused me. Throughout the time that I have been involved with technology IT has always been just something that a business does and there has never been a distinction between “The Business” and IT. It strikes me as rather arrogant that IT things it is different to an organisation and refers to the rest of an organisation as “ The Business”.
I have never seen a finance department talk about Business/Finance Alignment or HR talk about Business/HR Alignment. They are just functions which make a business work. This should be the same for IT. IT can be a differentiator, or not if you read Nicolas Carr's book Does IT Matter http://www.nicholasgcarr.com/doesitmatter.html, but it is just another function that makes an organisation work. There should never need to be an initiative to align business and IT. It should already be integrated into the day to day working of a business. We talk about Enterprise Architecture and all the dimensions that make up a business, including IT, as though this is something new and shiny. To me it has and should always be this way with IT just being part of the solution not the problem.
A good illustration of how IT currently perceives itself and how it can and should change is in Chris Potts' book FruITion. This explores, as a story rather than an academic text, how a CIO reacts when the management team explores a very different relationship with IT? The strategy that emerges has major implications for the CIO and everyone in the IT department. It is a good example of how IT should be part of a business not a third party somehow outside and superior.