Harvard Business Review on Aligning Technology with Strategy: A book review by Bob Morris

Harvard Business Review on Aligning Technology with Strategy Various Contributors
Harvard Business Review Press (2011)

How and why technology should support your organization’s strategy…not the other way around

This is one of the volumes in a series of anthologies of articles that first appeared in Harvard Business Review. Having read all of them when they were published individually, I can personally attest to the high quality of their authors’ (or co-authors’) insights as well as the eloquence with which they are expressed. This collection has two substantial value-added benefits that should also be noted: If all of the articles were purchased separately as reprints, the total cost would be at least $60-75; also, they are now conveniently bound in a single volume for a fraction of that cost.

Those who need to identify the best practices for unleashing technology’s strategic potential – but don’t have time to fine them — will find the material in this HBR book invaluable. Authors of the eight articles focus on one or more components of a process by which to clarify corporate strategy with one’s IT department, fund only IT projects that support its strategy, transform IT investments into profits, build one technology platform for an entire organization, adopt new technologies only when their best practices are established, use analytics to make smart decisions at all levels of one’s company, and integrate social media into one’s business.

I now provide two brief excerpts that are representative of the high quality of all eight articles:

In “Six IT Decisions Your IT People Shouldn’t Make,” Jeanne W. Ross and Peter Weill identify and discuss a list of six decisions for which senior managers should make. “The first three have to do with strategy; the second three relate to execution. Each is a decision that IT people shouldn’t be making – because, in the end, that’s not their job.”

1. How much should we spend on IT?
2. Which business processes should receive our IT dollars?
3. Which IT capabilities should be firmwide?

4. How good do our IT services need to be?
5. What security and privacy risks will we accept?
6. Whom do we blame if an IT initiative fails?

In “Competing on Analytics,” Thomas H. Davenport identifies and discusses six imperatives for a company to become an analytics competitor.

• Champion Analytics from the Top
• Create a Single Analytics Initiative
• Focus Your Analytics Effort
• Establish an Analytics Culture
• Hire the Right People
• Use the Right Technology(ies)

Other articles in this anthology I especially enjoyed include Ron Adner and Daniel C. Crow’s “Bold Retreat: A New Strategy for Old Technologies” and “Investing in IT That Makes a Competitive Difference” co-authored by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson


Enterprise Architecture As Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution
Jeanne-W.-Ross, Peter-Weill, and David Robertson

World Class IT: Why Businesses Succeed When IT Triumphs
Peter A. High

Open Business Models: How to Thrive in the New Innovation Landscape
Henry Chesbrough

Harvard Business Review on Aligning Technology with Strategy: A book review by Bob Morris: Using the Balanced Scorecard to Create Corporate Synergies
Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton

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